RV campground retreat’s first phase wins local approval



Robin and Peggy Lawton of Sarasota, Fla. are planning a 26-site RV park on West Bay in Gouldsboro.
ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

GOULDSBORO — West Bay Acadia RV Campground, seeking to develop a 26-site recreational vehicle retreat offering privacy, high-speed internet and unspoiled views of West Bay, won approval last Tuesday night, Sept. 1, for the initial phase in its site plan from the Planning Board.

The board’s 5-0 vote followed a public hearing and two open houses held the two previous weekends by the property owners pursuing the project.

Robin and Peggy Lawton of Sarasota, Fla., with their CES Inc. project manager, Chip Haskell, unveiled a new site plan map on which the initial six RV sites had been moved to a more favorable location on the 33-acre West Bay Road property’s incline sloping down to the West Bay inlet. They said the first phase’s septic field will remain in the same spot and the gravity-fed septic tank will be moved slightly. They also pointed out that 250-foot buffers from vernal pools had been added.

“It’s still under 1 acre,” Robin Lawton assured the board Sept. 1, referring to the relocation of the initial six sites. “That’s the only change.”

The Lawtons acquired the 33-acre West Bay Road property last year. For many years, the couple had called Maine their summer home, tenting and subsequently living in their Airstream Flying Cloud at campgrounds and RV parks scattered around Hancock County.

Having to book months ahead, the Lawtons last year searched for their own scenic, secluded land where they could park, live, recreate and work remotely during the summer.

The couple wound up buying a much bigger piece to meet the seasonal needs of other like-minded RVers.

Along Route 186, the Rainbow’s End street sign marks a dirt driveway that slowly winds down a rise to the West Bay shore. Like an amphitheater, West Bay Acadia RV Campground’s 25 sites descend from a ridge and fan out on the hillside. Walking down the incline, a vertical view of the tidal inlet emerges among the wild apple, birch, balsam, maple and other selected trees left standing in the clearing contemplated for the development. The pull-through spots, which measure between 50 feet wide and 75 feet deep, will be shielded with vegetation from neighboring sites. Each will have a screened fire pit and access to high-speed business internet with a download speed of 700 megabytes per second. The estimated cost will range around $125 per night.

The Lawtons looked at more than 60 properties before seeing the wild, undeveloped tract for sale above West Bay. They like that it is off the beaten path, but close enough for day outings to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Like many of their future clients, they both still work full time and like being distanced from other RV households.

“There are so many people like us. They want a home,” Robin Lawton said last week. “They want to bring their RV into the property as though they owned it themselves.”

Last month, the Planning Board determined that the Lawtons’ site plan application was complete. The applicants have sought a pre-application meeting with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to address any issues before they formally apply for that permit. Their site plan map, showing the proposed development, appears to comply with state shoreland zoning setback rules. It also identifies a stream, shorebird habitat, wetland areas and stands of various tree species. They have hired the Bangor engineering firm CES Inc. to finalize their plan.

Lawton said some mitigation likely will be required to curb the flow of stormwater down the incline to prevent shoreline erosion.

From Route 186, a new 1/3-mile-long road leads into the future campground where a 400- foot commercial well, which produces 20 gallons per minute, already has been dug. Bill LaBelle of Mariaville-based Septic System Design & Inspection already evaluated the site and drew up a wastewater treatment plan. The Lawtons already have secured permits from Interim Plumbing Inspector Jackie Robbins for a septic field for the initial six RV sites and another yet-to-be-built septic field for the other 20 sites.

At present, the campground’s facilities consist of two shipping containers. One serves as a tool shed while the other houses the water pump, Spectrum’s Wi-Fi wire connection and other infrastructure.

The Lawtons worked closely with Spectrum Inc., the cable and internet provider, to get high-speed business internet for their RV customers. They anticipate some RVers may even bring a mobile office to work from during their stay between May and mid-October. The campground will close up for the winter through late spring.

Letitia Baldwin

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]
Letitia Baldwin

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