Campground ordinance sparks debate

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BYRON – Twenty minutes into Thursday night’s public hearing on a proposed new ordinance to regulate commercial campground development and expansion, Planning Board Chairman Dave Duguay thought it might be a short session.

But that was because only a few of the 50 people present spoke in favor of the 16-page document, which took members of the Commercial Campground Development Ordinance Committee nine months to assemble.

Several people criticized the ordinance – item by item – for about 90 minutes, finding fault with nearly everything, but lauding the committee for its work.

Duguay opened the meeting, saying the ordinance’s goal is to maintain orderly, controlled growth versus uncontrollable commercial growth.

“The impact will be to maintain the ruralness and character of our small community,” he said. “We believe the standards outlined in the ordinance to be basic, reasonable and customary to a small community that may want to remain rural.”

Selectman Steve Duguay, Dave’s brother, said he supported the ordinance because it would protect Byron from development.

Others, like Coos Canyon Campground and Cabins LLC co-owner Roger Boucher, vigorously cut the document apart. Both Boucher and his wife repeatedly said they think the ordinance targets their planned expansion. Dave Duguay and other planners quickly said that wasn’t so.

Roger Boucher objected to proposed fees and permits, which he said would require him to pay on every single campsite.

“That makes it physically impossible to do any expansion, to do anything whatsoever,” he said.

Roger Boucher and several others also objected to a requirement that individual campsites have a minimum area of 18,234 square feet. State law only requires 5,000 feet, Roger Boucher said.

“You’re requiring one site for almost half an acre! How can one family rent two tent sites and keep their family together?” he asked.

He then said he and his wife would be willing to limit individual campsites to 10,000 square feet.

He and others also objected to the possibility that planners or selectmen could require campground developers to post a bond to defray all expenses of proposed improvements.

Michelle Ladd and others said the ordinance pertained more toward subdivisions than campgrounds and was overly restrictive.

“If someone wants to plant shrubbery, I think they should be able to do that instead of asking permission for every single bush. That’s ridiculous,” she said regarding the ordinance’s zero-visibility standard.

Others thought the ordinance would make it impossible for anyone to develop a campground.

“Calm this down and give us something that can work, that these people can live with, and, we’ll vote it in,” Junior Young said of the Bouchers, to whom he is related. “This is overkill.”

Several asked why a special town meeting had to be held next month to decide the issue.

Bob Susbury suggested either having another public hearing on the ordinance or a town meeting and then an all-day vote.

A show of hands at Dave Duguay’s request strongly supported another public hearing after the ordinance was altered, then have an all-day vote on it soon after.

Then, as people were starting to leave, Planning Board member Anne Simmons-Edmunds reminded everyone that 86 percent of Byron’s land is up for grabs.

“I personally don’t want to live in Old Orchard Beach … and I don’t want an RV city in Byron. If that happens, I will pay the extra money and post my land and shut down my land to snowmobiling,” she said.

A few others said neither the town nor the state was going to tell them what to do with their land. Town clerk and committee member Rosey Susbury and Dave Duguay tried to calm people.

“I hate to set up regulations, but unfortunately, not everybody respects their neighbors,” she said.

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