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Settlement Near in Maine Resort’s Park Model Dispute?

March 14, 2012 by · Comments Off on Settlement Near in Maine Resort’s Park Model Dispute? 

The owner of Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort LLC in York Beach, Maine, wants to settle a lawsuit brought against the town for ordering six new, cottage-like park models removed from its grounds, according to Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal.

“I would hope that this could be settled in the next month or so,” McDougal said March 9.

McDougal said he could release no further details, but if a settlement is reached it will go to the Board of Selectmen for approval, seacoast online.com reported.

Flagg’s owner, Robert Moser, said Monday (March 12) he knew his attorney, David Ordway of Saco, was working with the town on a settlement agreement. He referred further comment to Ordway, who could not be reached.

Flagg’s took its case to York County Superior Court after the York Board of Appeals in September, and again in October, upheld McDougal’s June 28 Notice of Violation & Order for Corrective Action ordering the park models removed from the park. McDougal said the park models violated town ordinance density standards as the new units more closely resembled manufactured housing than recreational vehicles, as claimed by Flagg’s.

The June 28 town order said violations of the town’s zoning ordinance are subject to fines or $100 to $2,500 per day for each violation. It is unknown whether the potential settlement agreement is related to the fines that could be levied by McDougal should Flagg’s lose its case in superior court, the removal of the units, or both.

York was the first town known to have challenged the national RV industry trend of moving park models into camper parks. The park models are recognized in the industry and by state and federal standards as recreational vehicles, according to Moser.

Moser is president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a company that owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. They’ve had no other problems with park models in other towns, he has said.

Park models have become the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).

“Recreational vehicle parks have determined they can increase their cash flow and bottom line as a RV park if they do more rental use than just allowing people to bring in their own units,” Garpow said in July.

Last spring, Flagg’s management told 10 RV owners in the Garrison Avenue park to remove their recreational vehicles to make way for the new six park models. One seasonal Flagg’s resident said he paid an estimated $5,000 a year to park his RV there, while the park models rent for an estimated $1,400 a week.

McDougal inspected the units and ruled they did not fit the definition of an RV by town ordinances because they, unlike street-legal RVs, need to be escorted as “wide loads” when in transit; do not have wheels underneath when parked; and have air conditioning condensers and propane gas tanks freestanding on concrete pads versus being attached as normally found on RVs.

Maine County Awaits Morgan Appeal on Park Model Ruling

November 2, 2011 by · Comments Off on Maine County Awaits Morgan Appeal on Park Model Ruling 

As of Monday (Oct. 31), the York, Maine, Board of Appeals had received no notification from York County Superior Court over whether Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort LLC planned to appeal its precedent-setting case claiming park models are recreational vehicles, seacoast online.com reported.

York appears to the first town to challenge the national RV industry trend of moving the cottage-looking units called park models into RV parks. The park models are recognized in the industry and by state and federal standards as recreational vehicles, according to Robert Moser, owner of Flagg’s.

RVs are allowed at Flagg’s in York Beach, but Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal has ruled the park models are not recreational vehicles but dwellings, which are not allowed in the park under the town ordinances.

The appeals board in September and again on Oct. 26 upheld McDougal’s ruling.

Flagg’s is expected to appeal the case to Superior Court.

Appeals Board Assistant Reenie Johnson said Monday the town had received no notification from the court of an appeal. The court officially notifies the town when an appeal is filed, she said.

Neither Moser nor his Attorney David Ordway, of Saco, returned phone calls for comment.

Other towns are watching the case, according to McDougal, who said he has fielded numerous phone calls from officials in other towns who want to know how York is handling the issue.

Park models have become the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).

“Recreational vehicle parks have determined they can increase their cash flow and bottom line as a RV park if they do more rental use than just allowing people to bring in their own units,” Garpow said in July.

Moser is president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a company that owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. They’ve had no other problems with park models in other towns, according to Moser.

This spring, Flagg’s management told 10 RV owners in the park to remove their recreational vehicles to make way for six new park models. One seasonal Flagg’s resident said he paid an estimated $5,000 a year to park his RV there, while the park models rent for an estimated $1,400 a week.

McDougal inspected the units and ruled they did not fit the definition of an RV by town ordinances because they, unlike street-legal RVs, need to be escorted as “wide loads” when in transit; do not have wheels underneath when parked; and have air conditioning condensers and propane gas tanks freestanding on concrete pads versus being attached as normally found on RVs, he ruled.

Flagg’s appealed McDougal’s ruling and lost its case with the appeals board in September. It then asked the appeals board for a reconsideration of both the ruling and the basis for its ruling, called the findings of fact. For instance, Moser took issue with testimony given in September about the wheels being removed from the units.

The appeals board denied both requests, upholding McDougal’s June 28 Notice of Violation & Order for Correction Action to remove the six new dwelling units.

Flagg’s Appeals Park Model Resort Denial

August 1, 2011 by · Comments Off on Flagg’s Appeals Park Model Resort Denial 

Flagg’s RV Resort LLC in York, Maine, has appealed the town’s order mandating it remove what it calls recreational vehicles and what the town calls manufactured housing from its Garrison Avenue campground.

Flagg’s has asked that the appeal be heard by the town’s Board of Appeals Sept. 14, according to attorney David Ordway of Smith & Elliott, Saco, who submitted the appeal on Wednesday, July 27. As of Friday, no appeal date had been set, the York Weekly reported.

Flagg’s maintains the units are not “dwellings” as stated in the town’s June 28 notice of violation and order for corrective action, but park models, defined as RVs by the federal government.

Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal said he is still researching federal law on the subject.

“Still, I’m charged with upholding the local ordinance,” he said. “If local ordinance doesn’t allow it, it’s not allowed.”

Town ordinance prohibits the units under town density standards for dwellings. McDougal said Flagg’s owners have been telling him they can’t be prohibited because they’re allowed under federal law.

“I keep saying, ‘show me why,'” McDougal said. “No one’s been able to show me why.”

McDougal ordered Flagg’s to remove the new units no later than July 22, or face fines of up to $2,500 per day.

This is the first time the issue has come before the Code Enforcement Office, according to McDougal and Steve Burns, head of the Community Development Office.

Yet, in the appeal, Ordway states park models are already in York.

“From Bar Harbor to Kittery, park model RVs and park trailers have become commonplace in Maine campgrounds,” Ordway said in the appeal. “… Similar units are also in place at other campgrounds in York and surrounding towns.”

Morgan RV Resorts LLC of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which owns Flagg’s, also owns numerous campgrounds from Maine to Florida and has no problems with the cottages in other towns, according to President Bob Moser.

McDougal said Thursday he has received calls from officials in other towns, RV campground owners and users about how York is handling the issue. Calls have come from a campground in Newry near Sunday River and from a park in Sandwich, N.H., he said.

Park models are becoming the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA). Executive Director Bill Garpow of Newnan, Ga., said an estimated 50% of the nation’s 13,000 RV campgrounds now have some park models.

“Recreational vehicle parks have determined they can increase their cash flow and bottom line as a RV park if they do more rental use than just allowing people to bring in their own units,” he said.

This spring, Flagg’s management told the owners of approximately 10 RVs parked year-round in the park and used seasonally, to remove their recreational vehicles. The reason was to make way for an estimated six units Morgan advertises as “cottages,” to be rented nightly or weekly. The campground changed its name from Flagg’s RV Resort to Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort.

One RV owner said he pays an estimated $5,000 to park his recreational vehicle at Flagg’s for the year, while the cottages rent for an estimated $1,400 a week.

According to Garpow, most RV parks do not need to evict RV tenants to make way for park models, as the majority rent to RV campers on a nightly or weekly, rather than seasonal basis, as is the case with Flagg’s.

Morgan RV Resort’s Maine Conversion Raises Questions

June 22, 2011 by · Comments Off on Morgan RV Resort’s Maine Conversion Raises Questions 

The Board of Selectmen has fielded numerous complaints about changes at Flagg’s RV Park since the York Beach, Maine, campground became Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort this spring.

Flagg’s management has replaced an estimated 10 seasonal, privately owned recreational vehicles with six duplex cottages, according to former park manager Larry Cormier. Whether the cottages are also considered RVs is a question currently being determined by the town Code Enforcement Office, seacoastonline.com reported.

Seasonal residents remaining in the estimated 70 RV sites still at Flagg’s have voiced concern they will also be evicted.

Selectmen Chairman Tracy Jackson McCarty said June 13 she’s heard from neighbors on Garrison Avenue and Webber Road, where the campground is located, fearing the nightly and weekly cottage rentals will increase traffic.

Selectmen Vice Chairman Mary Andrews wonders what the change means to York Beach as an affordable vacation destination. The cottages rent for $1,499 weekly, compared to the estimated $5,000 cost per season to park an RV there.

“To me, this is getting rid of trying to keep York a family place to come,” Andrews said. “(It’s) making it more yuppie.”

Despite the complaints, if Flagg’s is replacing RV units with other RV units and calling them cottages, there’s nothing the town can do because that change violates no town code, Community Development Director Steve Burns has told selectmen.

However, if Flagg’s is replacing RVs with manufactured housing, the change of use would not be allowed, Burns said. The violation would likely end up going before the town’s board of appeals, Burns said.

“It’s not looking like a camper to us,” Burns told selectmen June 13. “The more we get into it, the less OK it looks. It looks like a manufactured housing park.”

Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal inspected the cottages with Morgan employee Jessica Doane on June 17, he said. He has yet to make the determination whether the cottages violate town code.

Robert Moser of Morgan RV Resorts, owner of Flagg’s, has not returned phone calls for comment.

Morgan RV Resorts of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., offers cottage rentals at numerous parks nationwide, according to its website, www.morganrvresorts.com. Morgan bought Flagg’s in 2006.

The cottages are advertised as seasonal, two-family units, according to former manager Cormier.

Morgan intends to bring in 60 cottages, sell 20 of them and rent the other 40, he said in an interview at his home at Flagg’s. Company officials have said they will allow some of the privately owned, seasonal RVs to stay at Flagg’s, he said.

Cormier and his wife and co-manager, Bernice Cormier, were let go by Moser on May 20 after asking to be reimbursed for money they said they spent at the park out-of-pocket, according to Cormier, who produced e-mail correspondence to that effect.

The couple had been working for Morgan RV Resorts at Flagg’s for an estimated four years, they said.

The Cormiers were given the task of telling the estimated 10 seasonal RV owners whose spots would make way for the new cottages to remove their recreational vehicles from the park by May 1, they said.

“Everyone here is our personal friend. Our job was to take care of the seasonals,” said Larry Cormier. “This is a campground. They’re turning it into rental property.”

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