TREMONT–On Monday, residents gathered at a Select Board public hearing for a chance to speak their mind on two proposed referendum questions that will come before voters on Nov. 2.
One question involves updates to the town’s Site Plan Review ordinance while another asks voters to approve a campground moratorium. It is this second question that drew most of the discussion.
The proposed campground moratorium, if approved, would halt all pending campground applications, on top of any new applications for the following six months. It was put on the ballot by citizen petition. A moratorium would give the Planning Board time to create requirements for campground developments. There would also be an option, if the members of the Select Board decide, to extend the moratorium for an additional six months.
Resident Stephen Lawson, the first to speak, said that the idea of a campground moratorium had been placed before the Select Board at least twice (in Jan. and June of 2021). “In the interest of fairness, this petition brings it [campground moratorium] before voters, which is how decisions should be made,” he said.
If the moratorium is approved, it would immediately affect the owners of Acadia Wilderness Lodge James and Kenya Hopkins’s whose application for a 55-site campground on Kelleytown Road is still under planning board consideration. The campground would be adjacent to an initial 11-site campground that was approved by the Planning Board in 2019.
Becky Hopkins of Tremont, who is the mother of Acadia Wilderness Lodge owner James Hopkins attended the hearing to represent her son and his family who were not present. She said that the current divide over the issue is spilling into her family’s personal lives. Hopkins displayed a poster board of emails sent to the town manager, Jesse Dunbar about the pending campground. “These are letters that are threatening my children and my grandchildren,” she said, adding that the couple is not currently on the island.
Hopkins said that the couple has listened to neighbors and has even modified plans based on those discussions.
“We sat down with everyone in this town on a Zoom meeting. We listened and changed a campground that was 170 sites, to 55 [sites],” said Hopkins, along with support from her son’s attorney Andy Hamilton of Eaton Peabody, project planner Cynthia Orcutt, project engineer Greg Johnson and her sister.
She said the young couple has a lot of money invested in the project and said that a 180-day pause could mean “financial ruin” for them.
Local residents also shared their concerns about empty shelves at Southwest Foodmart IGA Grocery, more traffic on narrow roads, excessive noise, less year-round housing and more waste as a result of more campgrounds.
Additionally, voters will also be asked to approve or deny question 1, which assures provisions such as emergency access, water supply, sewage removal and traffic safety for both nonresidential and multifamily construction are included in Tremont’s Site Plan Review Ordinance when they head to the polls.
While the two questions are written on the Nov. 2 ballot for a vote, the Select Board suggests the adoption of question one and makes no recommendation on question two. Absentee Ballots are now available at the town office.