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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.

Maine Board Hands Morgan Resort Major Setback

October 27, 2011 by · Comments Off on Maine Board Hands Morgan Resort Major Setback 

The Board of Appeals on Wednesday (Oct. 26) in York, Maine, denied Flagg’s RV and Cottage Resort LLC a reconsideration of a September decision upholding a town order for the company to remove six new units it moved into the York Beach camper park this past spring, seacoast online.com reported.

The town calls the units dwellings, which are not allowed in the park, while Flagg’s claims they are “park models,” recognized by industry, state and federal standards as recreational vehicles. RVs are allowed at Flagg’s as a legal, nonconforming use.

In their Sept. 14 decision, Appeals Board members said they had to make a decision based on town ordinances. Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal claimed the new units are not RVs by town standards because they are portable only as escorted “wide loads,” unlike street legal RVs; they 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.

Robert Moser, president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, which owns Flaggs, took issue with the basis of the Appeals Board September decision, called findings of fact. Moser claimed through his attorney, improper testimony was given at the Sept. 14 hearing about the wheels being removed from the units. Moser asked the board to reconsider both the wording of the findings of fact and its September decision. The board denied both requests Wednesday, according to McDougal. Therefore, his June 28 notice of violation and order to remove the six new dwelling units, stands.

The denial opens the door to a potential appeals by Flagg’s to the York County Superior Court. Neither Moser, nor his attorney David Ordway, of Saco, could be reached for comment today.

McDougal said York’s case is being watched as precedent setting. He has fielded numerous phone calls from officials in other towns who want to know how York is handling the issue, McDougal said. Park models have become the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association.

“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.

Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratago Springs, N.Y., owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. It has had no other problems with park models in other towns, according to Moser.

This past spring, Flagg’s management told 10 RV owners in the park to remove their RVs to make way for six new park models. One seasonal resident said he paid an estimated $5,000 a year to park his RV there, compared to the park models, which rent for an estimated $1,400 a week. This past summer, Flagg’s asked the remaining seasonal campers to pay upwards of $13,000 in membership fees to reserve summer spots in future years.

When Morgan tried a similar move at its Peters Pond development in Massachusetts, asking residents of the Cape Cod housing community to pay a $16,000 membership fee, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued the company for allegedly intimidating residents into paying what she called “exorbitant” fees, according to an Aug. 23 released statement from her office. After the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office sued, Morgan stopped pursuing the request for a membership fee at Flagg’s.

Moser Defends Morgan RV Resorts Action in Bay State

September 7, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Morgan RV Resorts LLC has asked campers at its Flagg’s RV and Cottage Resort in York, Maine, to pay upward of $13,000 in membership fees, a move similar to one the company tried in Massachusetts that resulted in a lawsuit, according to an Aug. 23 announcement by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Morgan’s President Robert J. Moser, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., allegedly told homeowners if they didn’t pay to join the “club,” they could be removed from their site, according to Coakley’s statement. An estimated 100 homeowners paid up, according to Coakley.

Coakley is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Morgan from soliciting further fees and is seeking the recovery of money already paid, The York Weekly reported.

Moser denies wrongdoing. Morgan was offering a rewards system to its customers, he said.

“The lawsuit has completely wrong information,” Moser said Tuesday (Sept. 6). “Nobody has to be part of the club at all. It’s 100% voluntary. That’s why it’s so upsetting. It’s being blown up to something it’s not.”

A Morgan manager tried a similar move at Flagg’s RV and Cottage Resort on Webber Road near York, a campground owned by Morgan RV Resorts, according to a camper interviewed and the former manager. After the Massachusetts AG’s office filed the lawsuit, Morgan stopped pursuing the request for a membership fee, according to seasonal camper Melvin Riggs.

So far, no one staying at the park is known to have raised the issue with the Maine Attorney General, according to Riggs of Oklahoma.

In July, former Flagg’s Manager John Mangum asked Flagg’s campers to each pay a $13,000 membership fee to guarantee a space at the York Beach park for 40 years, according to Riggs and Mangum, though Mangum said he couldn’t remember if the duration was a 40-year membership. The campers were told if they didn’t pay the fee, their RV spaces in the park could be given to someone else, Riggs said.

By buying a membership, their yearly lot rent would be reduced to $1,000, said Riggs, who currently pays about $1,500 annually to leave his recreational vehicle at Flagg’s year-round and to live there seasonally.

“My first thought was, ‘I’m not going to be alive in 15 years,”‘ said Riggs on Sept. 2. When residents asked to see a copy of the contract, they were told it would cost $1,000 to get one, he said. This was in addition to the $13,000 membership fee.

Moser said Tuesday no one was being charged to get a contract. When The York Weekly asked to receive a copy, Moser said he didn’t have one.

Moser said no one will be asked to leave Flagg’s if they choose not to join the “club.” They can continue to rent RV seasonal space at Flagg’s, he said.

Mangum resigned three weeks into his tenure as Flagg’s summer office manager, he said Tuesday from his Georgia home.

“I didn’t like the way they were being treated,” Mangum said of the resort’s seasonal residents.

Mangum said Morgan planned to have all seasonal RVs removed from the park, to be replaced with park models. The seasonal residents would have to purchase a park model at a cost of more than $60,000, and also pay the membership fee, he said.

“There are still maintenance fees on top of that,” said Mangum. “These are not the type of people who can afford this type of thing. They’re retirees. I didn’t feel comfortable because I couldn’t get straight answers from (Morgan).”

Morgan moved an estimated six park models into Flagg’s earlier this summer. The estimated 10 campers who had seasonal RVs parked in the spaces where the cottages, also called park models, were placed were told to leave, according to campers and former office managers.

The town in June ordered Morgan to removed the cottages, saying they were manufactured housing and illegal in the zone where they’d been placed.

Moser claims the park models are RVs and has appealed the town’s order. The Appeals Board is scheduled to hear the case at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 in the York Public Library.

Official Orders Park Models Removed from Maine RV Park

July 5, 2011 by · Comments Off on Official Orders Park Models Removed from Maine RV Park 

Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal has issued a notice of violation and order for corrective action to Flagg’s RV Resort LLC located on the Maine coast, saying the York Beach campground changed its use when it replaced recreational vehicles with park model cottages.

The town considers the six new cottages to be “dwelling units,” which represent a change of use from the RVs, which are allowed in the campground, according to McDougal’s notice issued June 28, seacoastonline.com reported.

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

Flagg’s is appealing the violation notice to the town’s Board of Appeals, as the six units are still RVs, according to Bob Moser, president and co-owner of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, which owns Flagg’s.

“They are RVs; they are manufactured by an RV manufacturer,” Moser said Monday (July 4). “They are a newer type of RV.”

Morgan RV Resorts, out of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., owns numerous campgrounds from Maine to Florida and has no problems with the cottages in other towns, he said.

Locally, he said, Sea-Vu Campground in Wells offers cottages for rent and for sale, and there has been no problem in that town, he said.

Sea-Vu Campground, made up of the Sea-Vu, Sea-Vu South and Sea-Vu West, is independently operated and not owned by Morgan, according to Sea-Vu West manager Jason Talevi, a member of the Talevi family, which opened the campground in 2006.

Sea-Vu West has 140 park model cottage units, he said.

“They might look like a cottage,” Talevi said. “(The town of) Wells has no problem. They’re under 400 square feet, so they’re classified as an RV. If they’re over that, it’s a manufactured or mobile home.”

The Sea-Vu units are about 12 feet wide and 34 or 35 feet long, he said.

In his notice of violation, McDougal said Flagg’s new dwellings don’t meet the town’s definition of recreational vehicle or trailer.

“These new dwellings are approximately 13 feet by 30 feet, and they appear to be small, manufactured houses,” McDougal said in the notice.

McDougal inspected the cottages on June 17, he said.

Morgan starting bringing in the six cottages this spring, putting the units in a space formerly rented to an estimated 10 RV owners, who were told to move out this spring. The campground changed its name from Flagg’s RV Resort to Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort.

The cottages rent for $1,499 weekly, compared to the estimated $5,000 cost per season to park an RV there.

Some of the estimated 70 seasonal RV owners remaining at Flagg’s have voiced concern they will be next to be asked to leave the park. Selectmen at a June 13 board meeting said neighbors on Garrison Avenue and Webber Road, where Flagg’s is located, fear the change from seasonal to nightly and weekly rentals will increase traffic.

Morgan bought the former independently owned campground around 2006.

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