Board continues campground discussion


June 29, 2011
ALTON — Members of the Alton Planning Board last week continued discussing a proposal to turn a parcel of land off Route 28 into a 150-unit RV park.

Tyler Phillips of Horizon Engineering, who represents Robert Carleton, the owner of the land on which the park would sit, came before the board at its June 21 meeting to address a pair of planning cases dealing with the proposed facility. One of the cases governs an application for a site plan of the would-be park, which would feature wastewater disposal and town water on-site, while the other deals with a potential lot line adjustment that would reconfigure two lots of land for the facility.

Members of the board conducted a site walk on the plot of land where the park is proposed, which lies just west of the Alton traffic circle, June 13. They also formally met with Phillips to address the cases at their May 17 meeting.

Since that meeting, Phillips noted at the onset of discussions last week, two addendums had been made to the plans he originally submitted to the board. One of them was a decision to no longer pursue placing boat racks at the park, while the other was that drillers would no longer need to drill under abutter Sandra Esposito's property to provide a hookup to town water. However, since the discussions dealing with the cases were a continuation from the previous meeting, Phillips said at last week's meeting that he would discuss items based off of the older plans.

And Phillips engaged in a lengthy discussion with board members about a number of specificities in the plans, including the standards to which the road into the park would be built, a shoreline protection permit waiver pending from the state's Department of Environmental Services and vegetation on the property.

One item on the plans that board Chairman Tim Roy noted put him at ease was that drilling to connect the park to the town's waterline will be commenced on Carleton's property and then continue under the Merrymeeting River to Pine Street. Roy said that he previously thought the drilling would be conducted in the reverse order.

Another item that sparked an exchange between Phillips and board members was if the property would have to adhere to the town's wetland setback standards, since, Phillips noted, the lot was created prior to the adoption of those regulations.

Board member Tom Hoopes said he felt the property would have to adhere to those standards, because there would be changes occurring on the lot.

But Town Planner Ken McWilliams said the town's attorney informed him that the standards would not apply to the property, because a new lot is not being created.

Additionally, Phillips noted that he and Carleton would be willing to accept town regulations of the park identical to ones established for the Roberts Knoll Campground on Route 28 to operate.

However, Sylvia Leggett, the owner of the campground, noted at a public input portion during last week's meeting that her campground caters to the same people all season long, and suggested that Phillips and Carleton adopt regulations that apply specifically to transient campgrounds.

In addition to Leggett, a few other members of the public opined on the plans during a public input session offered by the board.

One of those to speak during the public period, Jed Callen, an attorney who represents abutter Esposito, questioned what phase of review by the board the plans were in. Callen said that even though documentation listed the plans as being in a preliminary conceptual review phase, discussions seemed to him to indicate that it was more closely aligned with the design review phase.

"I do not want to suggest that I don't believe that a free flow of information… isn't generally a good thing," said Callen, who also lauded Alton's planning staff for its cooperation in providing him with materials. "The problem I have with that is that sounds an awfully lot like [a] site plan review process."

After Callen and several board members discussed the issue further, Phillips said he thought he was in a design review process, noting that he had sent required documentation to abutters of the property notifying them of a design review.

McWilliams then said that he had mistakenly mislabeled the phase as a conceptual review, and noted that it was intended to be a design review.

After a couple other members of the public spoke about the plans, Phillips said that he felt he had concluded the design review phase in the site plan case submitted to the board, and told board members that he was ready to move on to the third phase in the process, which requires him to submit final plans to the board for review.

However, Phillips will have to get a special regulatory exemption on a part of the lot from the town's Zoning Board before he submits the final plans.

Phillips was also granted a continuance on discussions related to the lot line adjustment until the board's next meeting.

Elsewhere last week, board members approved a subdivision application for Joseph Byrne to amend a drainage plan and replace a detention pond with two bioretention ponds on a group of lots along East Side Drive, provided that conditions they set forth will be adhered to.

They also approved a minor subdivision application for Elizabeth King of Chestnut Cove Road to divide a 2.3-acre lot off of 47.1-acre lot – provided that conditions they outlined are also adhered to.

The board will meet again on Tuesday, July 19.

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