Wilderness Lodge approval stands

TREMONT — A planned new lodging business on Kelleytown Road is a step closer to becoming reality after a July 18 decision from the town’s Board of Appeals to deny an appeal by abutters of the project.

Meeting for the first time in five years, the Board of Appeals upheld the Planning Board’s decision to approve the application.

Years ago, James Hopkins’ grandfather gave him the undeveloped 1.6-acre lot. In January of this year, Hopkins, a resident of Miami, Fla., turned in an application to the town’s Planning Board.

His proposed Acadia Wilderness Lodge would include 11 camping lodges measuring 11 by 21 feet, each with a 5,000-square-foot footprint, and an office building.

Members of the Planning Board approved the application at their May 21 meeting by a vote of 3-2. Chair Mark Good, Linda Graham and Maynard Young voted in favor of the approval with conditions. Members Susan Snyder and Geoff Young were opposed to the approval.

Conditions for the approval included a 25-foot setback from property boundary lines for all cabins, 6-foot to 8-foot evergreen buffers and signage on buffers to delineate boundaries.

Of the 13 abutting property owners who were notified of the project, three sent letters voicing their concerns about the proposal. Concerns ranged from destruction of the neighborhood aspect of the area, additional noise from campers, possible water quality deterioration and an increase in traffic among reasons to oppose the proposed campground business.

“Unlike the applicant’s name would suggest, the area in question is a not a ‘Wilderness’ but a neighborhood,” one abutter wrote.

Abutter Cynthia Lawson was the neighbor appealing the Planning Board’s approval based on what she stated as a misinterpretation of the town’s ordinance.

In the appeal, Lawson argued the town’s Land Use Ordinance only allows one accessory dwelling unit of less than 600 square feet for all zoning districts. The residential-business zone allows for a minimum lot area per residential dwelling unit to be 40,000 square feet, she said, and Acadia Wilderness Lodge is being proposed on a piece of property measuring 69,696 square feet, or 1.6 acres.

A residential dwelling unit is defined as “a room or group of rooms designed and equipped exclusively for use as a permanent, seasonal or temporary living quarters … and contain cooking, sleeping and toilet facilities.”

Kitchens were the deciding factor in the Appeals Board decision, according to code enforcement officer John Larson.

In order for the proposed 11 shelter lodges to be considered dwellings, they need to have kitchens — or cooking facilities, which were not part of the application.

After nearly two hours of presentations from the lawyers for the property owner and for the appellant, as well as from Good, the appeals board voted to deny the appeal 4-1.

Appeals board members Mel Atherton, Reva Weisenberg, Joanne Harris and Marcia Madeira were in favor of the denial. Mike Hays was the only vote in opposition of the denial.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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