Proposed RV campground draws concerns

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

THE FORMER CAMP WOODLANDS ON LONG LAKE IN BRIDGTON — is the location of a new 115-site RV campground that would have five cul-de-sacs with each having several campsites on it. The project would be developed in phases, according to Tom Dubois, of Main-Land Development Consultants, Inc. Camp Takajo owner Jeff Konigsberg is the owner of the proposed Camp Woodlands Family Campground off Kansas Road.

A proposed 115-site RV campground at a former children's summer camp on Long Lake in Bridgton brought out numerous concerns about increased traffic, pedestrian safety, noise and potential adverse effects on the surrounding area and properties, at the Bridgton Planning Board meeting Tuesday night.

Peter Lowell, executive director of the Lakes Environmental Association, publicly expressed that organization's concerns about the effects of the proposed density of the RV campground project on Long Lake.

According to a fact sheet provided by Tom Dubois of Main-Land Development Consultants, Inc. at the April 10 pre-application informational session, "The Camp Woodlands Family Campground is proposed to be a campground for recreational vehicles, consisting of 115 RV pad sites. Each of these sites will be served by full utility hookups, including water, sewer, electricity and cable TV. The project site is located on the east side of Kansas Road, and on the west shore of Long Lake, on the property formerly operated as Camp Woodlands, formerly a children's summer camp."

The Camp Woodlands property has 318 feet of shore frontage, with a beach area that is 120 feet in length.

The RV campground is being proposed by Jeff Konigsberg of Konigsberg Properties, IV, of Armonk, N.Y. Konigsberg is a longtime summer resident of the Lake Region who owns Camp Takajo, a boys' camp located on the west shore of Long Lake off Route 35 in Naples.

Due to the size of the proposed RV family campground and its location in and near the Shoreland Zone, it will be reviewed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the Bridgton Planning Board.

"These review processes will consider surface water quality, lake water quality, groundwater quality, visual quality, and public healthy and safety, among other issues," the fact sheet states.

"The project is intended to be constructed in phases, over a number of years, as dictated by market demand," Dubois said. "The current goal is to open the facility for the camping season of 2013."

"Jeff Konigsberg is the face behind this," Dubois said. "Jeff is a family man, and his father was the first camper at Camp Takajo. Jeff came to Camp Takajo as a camper in 1970, and he has never missed a summer on Long Lake since. He became owner of Camp Takajo in 1988. He is a member of LEA, and has a vested interest in what happens to Long Lake."

"Jeff is wholly vested in this lake and this community and is not a cut-and-run developer," Dubois stated.

According to Dubois, Konigsberg had considered renovating the former Camp Woodlands as a children's camp but found that option to be "cost prohibitive."

"So, Jeff wanted to find a way that families and children can enjoy the property and the lake together at an affordable price," said Dubois.

Dubois said the campground design attempted to have buffers along Kansas Road a minimum of 50 feet from the roadway, however, he admitted that in some places it is less than that.

It was noted that there are six cabins at the Camp Woodlands property that are and will remain as seasonal rentals. He also stated that it is hoped hunters and snowmobilers will be able to rent some of the RV campsites at other times of the year, as well.

Dubois said there would be five cul-de-sacs at the campground, and each RV campsite pad would be 24 feet in length, with 25 feet of space between each one.

Public's concerns

Nearly 50 people attended the planning board meeting April 10, most of whom came to hear about the proposed RV campground.

Glen Niemy, who lives near the Camp Woodlands property on Kansas Road, expressed his concerns about the safety of Kansas Road with additional traffic and pedestrians.

"My concern is very much directed toward traffic problems," Niemy said. "In the summer, tourists use the road to walk up and down...it seems like an awful, awful lot of people coming onto Kansas Road, which is an awful mess with the (road) shoulders gone. I want to make sure how does the board plan on addressing this problem...That's an awful lot of vehicles on a poorly constructed road that is very dark."

Planning Board Steve Collins informed the attendees that Tuesday night's pre-application session was not intended for "substantive" information to be discussed, but rather generalized questions could be posed about the overall project.

Harry Cross spoke up, saying at least 50 to 70 more people who own property near the Camp Woodlands property would have attended the April 10 meeting if they could have, but that most of them live out of state in the wintertime.

"The problem is the road has got four tenting areas on it already, and all of the (Lake Region Middle) school traffic — to put RVs in on that corner, that's a death trap," said Cross. "Billy Walker got killed on that corner," Cross said further. Referring to the large RVs that would be entering and exiting the Camp Woodlands property, Cross said, "It's a safety hazard — and to put that many RVs in there, that's another problem."

According to Cross, Konigsberg "wasn't very cooperative" when the local snowmobile club wanted to have access across the Camp Woodlands property. "What goes around comes around," said Cross.

Michael Johnson said he lives across from the Camp Woodlands property on Kansas Road.

Johnson said he, too, has concerns about "all that traffic," and also stated, "Another concern is the noise — the (proposed swimming) pool and (outdoor) basketball court are directly across from my home. Part of why we settled in Maine was it's quiet."

Johnson said he is concerned what effect the proposed campground may have on the property values of nearby residential properties.

Asked Johnson, "Is that going to lower, drastically, the value of my neighbors' and my properties?"

Leslie Niemy pressed Dubois on the nearness of the proposed basketball court and pool area to Kansas Road.

"That's not (a buffer of) 50 feet," Leslie Niemy stated.

"That's not 50 feet — correct," Dubois replied.

Leslie Niemy also asked if there would be nighttime curfews at the basketball court and swimming pool area.

"As far as using the basketball court and pool at 10 o'clock at night — that's a sound issue and a safety issue," she said.

Laura Handrahan said her family has owned their property on Long Lake near Camp Woodlands "since 1905."

"It's really a special place to all of us, and we would like Jeff to have success, (but) there are already six cabins times eight to 10 people, plus the 115 RV sites. I just don't see how you can control that. Camp Woodlands closed in 1979, nearly 30 years ago."

Jane O'Meara Sanders of Vermont said her family has owned its nearby lakefront property "for 105 years — five generations."

"The density of this project is beyond anything we could imagine," Sanders said. "It will have a significant impact on air quality, noise, lighting, the lake and the aquifer."

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