Pasture for his ‘buddies’: Schott developing Casco horse farm
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO — One Maine resident savors his boyhood memories of swimming in Pleasant Lake at his dad’s summer home.
He remembers fondly gazing across the water at the shore of a boys’ camp, where so much activity was taking place.
Since 2005, George Schott has owned that property where the boys’ camp operated from the 1940s to as recently as two years ago.
There, on Mayberry Hill Road, he plans to build his own retirement home facing Pleasant Lake, and to provide a space for 10 to 20 of his personal horses.
“They’re my buddies,” he said. “As a kid, my sister had a horse, and I learned to ride. From there, I’ve had them all my life.”
“They call them a ‘noble creature,’ but horses have their own characteristics and personality,” Schott said, adding that Golden Retrievers are also part of the family and, “everyone hangs out together and has a good day” where he lives in Greene.
He has owned a horse farm in Greene since 1981.
Recently, Casco residents, who drive Mayberry Hill Road, have noticed that the landscape of the camp has changed as the parcel transitions from lawn and trees to a future pasture for horses.
“The brisk pace has been to beat the weather and get the vegetation down,” Schott said.
Currently, work crews are planting timothy hay and clover mix to appease his equines. Prior to clearing the land, Schott talked with his abutting neighbors as well as the town’s code enforcement officer.
One abutting neighbor, who declined to have her name in The Bridgton News, said Schott came to her home and was forthcoming about his plans for the land. She thought he would be a good neighbor. Not only did she like that the cleared trees along Mayberry Hill Road would provide a better line-of-sight for drivers, she was also impressed that Schott stopped by and discussed the future use of his property with her family.
She said she’d prefer his single-family home and his horses to hundreds of boys creating all the noise that happens during their one week of camp.
She was also glad someone would be “treating the land with love” by providing a pasture for horses and designing the home to which they planned to retire.
“I wanted to make them aware of what’s going on,” Schott said of his abutting neighbors. “I am making room for my buddies, for my horses.”
While there is a timeline for putting in place the pastures, and later, stables and indoor riding arena, Schott doesn’t know exactly when he will build his house or how soon he will retire.
As a well-known Maine businessman and at the age of 61, Schott owns the Auburn Mall, the Auburn Plaza (both since 2005), an excavation firm (since 2006), housing developments in Brunswick, and Morgan show horses. He also owns Schott Motorcycle Supply Inc., in Auburn. In addition, one of his companies has been awarded numerous government defense contracts.
“I consider myself a re-developer. I take something that’s already there, and upgrade it,” Schott said. “I don’t do commercial development around lakes.”
He owns property in Oxford that, “might have some potential down the road,” but his land in Casco will be purely for personal use.
When Schott purchased the approximately 30-acre Casco property, it continued to operate as Camp Samoset II. But, the camp went out of business two summers ago, he said. At that time, he considered managing the summertime camp and researched not only the feasibility of keeping it running, but also the history of Camp Samoset.
“I entertained the idea of keeping the boys’ camp, but it was not economical in today’s environment,” Schott said.
So, Schott decided the shores of Pleasant Lake would be a view he could enjoy in his retirement years.
“This is the exact opposite of development,” he said. “Development brings more people” while his plans for the land will provide a space for fewer people.
He said he would not provide riding lessons or engage in horse-related business on the land.
However, when the longtime Mainer decides to build the indoor riding arena for his personal horses, he will have to appear before the Casco Planning Board, according to Casco Code Enforcement Officer Elwin Thorpe.
“The indoor riding arena, because of the size, will come before the planning board,” Thorpe said. “And they will need to ask what he is doing for containment of manure from the farm.”
“The agriculture use is allowed under ordinance,” said Thorpe, who spoke to Schott when he came to the town office and also during a site walk on the property.
Permits were not required to cut down trees on the privately-owned lot. All tree removal was done a distance from the water so that shoreland zoning ordinances did not come into play, according to Thorpe.
Viable lumber from the land clearing is being sold to several different companies, including locally-based Hancock Lumber. Tree roots are being used as fill. Any wood that won’t be put to use is being chipped on the site and hauled away, Thorpe said.
“He needs permits when starting construction on buildings of any kind,” Thorpe said. “The fellow is going to make it into a home, and a horse ranch. All t