Salmon Point Campground — How much is too much like home?

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Selectmen are trying to create rules that would make sites at the Salmon Point Campground more  natural and aesthetically pleasing. But some are questioning whether the board is nit-picking the details to the extent that campers will go elsewhere.

The effort to create a Campsite Limitations Policy comes after years of allowing long-term seasonal campers to add any manner of patios, awnings and screened-in areas beside their campers and RVs, as well as to erect large tents that stay up for months at a time. In some cases the accessory structures have been put up on sites that lie within the Shoreland Zone, which is illegal under state law.

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz drafted proposed language that the board reviewed at its Dec. 10 meeting. “The issue was, what do you want to allow on the site, and for how long,” he told the board.

For sites in the Shoreland Zone, only the camping unit is allowed, and nothing else; not even a platform for stacking firewood.

For sites outside the Shoreland Zone, the proposed limits were as follows:

• Decks should be no longer than the length of the camper, and no wider than 10 feet.

• Screened-in areas should be limited to after-market manufactured units no taller than the camper itself.

• Only one shed is allowed, no larger than 8’x10’, no taller than 12 feet, and set on removable blocks.

• A detached tent may only stay up for seven days to allow for family and guests.

Those returning campers who have structures that exceed the limits under the policy will be allowed to keep their site as is, until the end of next summer. Then they must be removed or modified to meet the same rules as new campers who sign a lease with the town for the summer.

The policy gives the town’s recreation director the authority to approve or deny accessory structures. At some of the private campgrounds visited by Selectmen Bernie King and Bob McHatton, the town’s code enforcement officer holds the decision-making authority, McHatton pointed out.

Selectman Paul Hoyt, who recused himself from the board for the discussion because he owns a site at Salmon Point, said he had concerns that the rules were too technical for the average summer camper who has come, after all, to relax.

Some seasonal campers, for example, build a platform to stack their supply of wood for the summer. Under the rules, such a platform would not be allowed.

Recreation Director Gary Colello agreed with Hoyt, saying he was worried “if we’re going to nit-pick so much we’re going to lose campers out of this.” Colello suggested he be given the authority to use his discretion when deciding whether a campsite was looking too busy.

But Selectman Chairman Doug Taft said, “With all due respect, but that’s a policy issue.”

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