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CabinPro Park Model Camper.

CabinPro Park Model Camper.

Source: backyardoutdoorstructures.com

By Zendelle Bouchard

At its meeting on April 16, 2024, the Sanford City Council voted unanimously to direct City Manager Steve Buck to bring forward a moratorium on development of campgrounds so the city can review the current ordinances as they relate to campground development. The issue was raised in response to the proposed development of a new campground on the shores of Sand Pond off Country Club Road 2.

The property, owned by Michael and Bonnie Patterson, was originally proposed to have 13 year round rental cabins and 29 seasonal RV sites. Planning and Codes Director Jamie Cole told the City Council’s Zoning Subcommittee last week that the Site Plan Review Committee tabled the proposal due to a number of deficiencies, one of which was that a cottage is considered a dwelling unit, which means each of them would require 200’ of shore frontage. The Pattersons are now proposing 15 park model campers (see photo) instead of cottages, which are not considered dwelling units as long as they remain on their wheels. Cole said these park models are commonplace in local campgrounds.

Neighbors have formed an association to oppose the project, and have raised concerns about the impacts to wildlife, traffic and quality of life for year-round residents. (See our previous story.) Some of these neighbors as well as the Pattersons spoke at the Council meeting to express their opinions.

The City Council’s major concern is that Sanford’s ordinance regulating campgrounds is outdated and inadequate, most importantly that the ordinance does not define campgrounds as seasonal. The Pattersons have indicated that they would like to rent the campers out year-round. A secondary concern is the size of setbacks that are required between the campers and abutting residential properties. After lengthy discussion, Councilors agreed that both of these issues meet the criteria for preventing serious public harm. This means that changes to the ordinance could be made retroactive and would then apply to any applications that have already been submitted, including the Patterson’s project.

Other issues, including density and water quality, were discussed but ultimately did not meet the criteria for retroactive changes, or were regulated by the state instead of local authorities.

Any proposed changes to the ordinance will have to be reviewed by the Planning Board as well as the Council, with public hearings at each. The full process could take up to six months. In addition to setbacks and seasonality, the Council expects to look at other aspects of the ordinance, but those changes could not be made retroactive.

There was some discussion about a campground/fairground on Sunset Road in Springvale being proposed by the organizers of the Maine Renaissance Faire that is currently held annually at the Acton Fairground. Cole said that application has not been submitted yet, and Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy indicated that traffic concerns might derail the project entirely.

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