GOULDSBORO — West Bay Acadia RV Campground aims to be fully operating by the Fourth of July after receiving Planning Board approval last Tuesday night for the second phase of its 24-site recreational vehicle retreat off West Bay Road. Starting in May, the campground will open in stages. Further expansion is not envisioned at this time.
In a 5-0 vote, the board granted the go-ahead to West Bay Acadia RV Campground owners Robin and Peggy Lawton of Sarasota, Fla., to build the remaining RV sites on their 33-acre property that overlooks and slopes down to the West Bay inlet. The Lawtons anticipate having any pending permits in hand by mid-June or earlier to proceed with construction.
“We have everyone poised for construction,” Robin Lawton told the board via Zoom. “It will take us one month to six weeks [to complete the project].”
Since they submitted their plan for review late last summer, the Lawtons’ location of the pull-through RV spots and the overall layout was modified several times due to input from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the couple’s CES Inc. project manager, Chip Haskell. The multiple versions caused confusion, but Lawton reviewed the application process’s various stages with board members who eyed the final layout to ensure the project’s scope had not expanded.
On Route 186, the Rainbow’s End street sign marks the 1/3-mile-long road leading down to West Bay Acadia RV Campground that straddles a ridge and hillside. Like an amphitheater, most of the pull-through spots, measuring between 50 feet wide and 75 feet deep, are arranged in three tiers descending toward the shore. Seven RV sites are clustered along the hill’s base. Called Woodlands, a grouping of six sites flank the southern slope. Vegetation will shield each RV site from the other. The final design can be seen at westbayacadia.com.
When asked about a possible third phase, Lawton said he and his wife do not contemplate further expansion at this time. “When we get this done this year, we can think about what more to do,” he said. “We don’t have anything planned out yet.”
In other business, the Planning Board unanimously tabled action on amending the town’s Land Use Zoning Ordinance to address commercial campgrounds comprised of up to four campsites. They agreed the issue always can be revisited. To date, only one local, for-profit venture has come under the board’s radar, although the town’s code enforcement officer has received multiple inquiries. He said they are largely from out-of-state property owners exploring the idea of renting campsites in their backyards or on their newly acquired land.
Under Maine law, a campground constitutes “a parcel of land where camping takes place and contains five or more sites in any combination.” Such businesses must obey state health and environmental-related rules enforced through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health Inspection Program. Consequently, Gouldsboro’s Land Use Zoning Ordinance requires for-profit campgrounds, exceeding four campsites, to submit site plans and undergo Planning Board review, among other things.
Gouldsboro Code Enforcement Officer Jim McLean reiterated that his motive was not to create greater municipal oversight or add ordinances. McLean said he envisioned amending the home occupation definition to include for-profit campgrounds with up to four camp or RV sites. He said related rules could be to provide a porta-potty and fire pit or ring. He said such language would provide property owners with a reference and protocol.
“It’s information for people who are moving here from other places,” he said. “Some people think they are moving to the Wild West.”
Board member Deb Bisson opposed more regulations, saying she recently had polled 43 local residents. Only two of them favored further regulating property owners. She said she also could not find any Maine municipal ordinances addressing for-profit, micro campgrounds smaller than the state definition.
“I am just concerned about property rights of owners,” she said, asking, “What is the Planning Board’s purview?”
Board member A. J. Higgins saw McLean’s proposed amendment as a way to close a loophole in the zoning ordinance and address complaints. He did not see it as excessive municipal overreach.
“Very minimal dealing with human waste and fire protection,” he noted. “Are those things we shouldn’t be concerned about?”