Settlement Leads to Campground Closing
The town of Gray, Maine, and the owner of a controversial campground on Little Sebago Lake have reached a tentative agreement to settle a longstanding dispute over alleged land use violations, a deal that prevents the campground from opening in the spring, according to Mainetoday.com.
The proposed consent agreement with Twin Brooks Campground will be the subject of a public hearing Feb. 17, after which the town council will vote on whether to adopt the agreement.
People living near the campground and others around the lake have complained that the campground violated local land use rules, expanding the number of campsites without permission.
The campground has been operating on the shores of Little Sebago Lake since at least the 1950s, before Gray even had zoning restrictions. Many townspeople have fond memories of vacations spent there.
The town’s zoning ordinance, adopted in 1968, allowed the campground as a conditional use, but alleged violations came to light only when Twin Brooks applied for an expansion of its existing 45 campsites to more than 100 campsites. Neighbors said they discovered that the campground had never had permission to expand beyond the 25 sites it had in the 1960s.
The campground is now owned by Andrea Maloney, who inherited it. The 60-acre parcel is now for sale.
Twin Brooks’ owner had claimed that many of the campsites should be grandfathered as permissible because they had existed before the town adopted its zoning code.
But the owner could have faced significant fines – hundreds of thousands of dollars – if a court ruled against her, said the town’s lawyer, Paul Driscoll.
The town council authorized the hiring of Driscoll to represent the town in its dispute with the campground. This led to the consent agreement, which is intended to be filed in Portland District Court.
Under the consent agreement, the campground will cease operating as such, and its owner will pay a $20,000 fine and remove all campsite hookups.
“There’s no way to placate everyone,” Driscoll said. “The campground views this as an onerous disposition of the case. Other people around the lake may feel it’s not stringent enough.”
The agreement does give the campground until October to complete the remedial work, though it says the campground owner will make a good-faith effort to comply in a timely manner. The deal allows for more penalties if the campground fails to live up to the agreement.
The campground could reapply for permission to operate in the future, but it would have to meet all current regulations and again receive the approval of the town.