2017-05-12 / Community

Town reaches camp site deal with Bentley’s

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — For $100, the town of Arundel will settle a land use violation at Bentley’s Saloon and Campground on Route 1, allowing the site to move forward with plans to add 137 additional camping spots.

The new RV spaces would be added in five phases to the 53 already on the 46.8- acre site. However, during site walks on the property starting in the spring of 2016, planning board members made note of about a dozen campers on the property, which owner Bentley Warren III had allowed to stay during the winter.

Arundel’s land use ordinance limits occupancy at campgrounds to 12 of the 18 weeks between May 15 and Sept. 15. Campers can be on site for up to two weeks outside that timeframe, but anything beyond that constitutes illegal “winter storage.”

According to Town Manager Keith Trefethen, the planning board interpreted that to mean that campers and RVs need to be removed from the property in the off-season, even though half of the dozen units that remained on site last winter belonged to Warren, while he did not charge a site fee for the rest.

Even though code enforcement officer Jim Nagle never issued Warren a formal notice of violation, his expansion application hit the skids, and the planning board refused to consider it. That decision was based on a 1994 board of selectmen policy that denies permits or licenses to any property with an outstanding violation, until the issue is cleared up, or a consent agreement signed.

At the May 8 selectmen’s meeting, Trefethen said the issue is somewhat moot. With the new season set to start May 15, he said, the violating campers will once again be legal under the letter of the law.

Given that Arundel’s land use ordinance contains no timeframe for how long an RV must be offsite before returning, Nagle ruled at one point that Warren could satisfy the rules simply be moving the stored RVs “around the block,” and back again, effectively erasing the violation and resetting the clock.

Warren expected to store the campers once again over the coming winter, and his attorney, Robert Kline, suggested that to move things along, everyone simply agree to amend the winter storage rules before the snow flies once more. That, too, was rejected by the planning board, which stuck to its guns and declined to hear Warren’s application until the issue was resolved without relying on some future fix.

To neaten things up and erase all concern over the violation, selectmen agreed to sign a consent agreement with Bentley’s in which, for a $100 fee, the town agrees to seek no enforcement or punitive action for past winter storage violations.

That agreement was slated to be drawn up during the week, with selectmen gathering in Trefethen’s office for a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 15, to sign the document.

The draft consent agreement submitted to the town by Kline April 26 called on neither side to acknowledge any violation ever took place, and for selectmen to put a part of land use ordinance amendments before voters at the annual town meeting. Those edits would have extended the defined camping season by three months, moving the end dates to April 1 and Oct. 31, and added park models that remain mounted on a chassis, even if wheels are not in place, to the ordinance definition of recreational vehicles.

“This [change] is just trying to come into compliance with the industry, it’s not unique to this town,” said Rick Licht, of Gray-based Licht Environmental Design, who has acted as agent for Warren’s proposed campsite expansion.

However, selectmen were not keen on any consent agreement that called on placing an ordinance update before voters.

“I’ve never really seen any consent agreement that puts more obligation on the community to do stuff than the violator,” Selectman Thomas Danylik said. “And usually you admit to the violation and there’s a penalty of some sort for the town agreeing not to pursue things in the courts.”

Kline asked selectmen to at least include a line in the agreement directing the planning board to consider the policy question resolved.

“Well, according to the policy, once there’s a consent agreement, they [the planning board] should be good to go,” Danylik said.

At their May 8 meeting, selectmen also approved a new liquor license for Bentley’s Saloon, as well as a new special amusement license allowing live music, DJs, and dancing.

Although they did not consider it as part of the license renewals, selectmen did acknowledge a May 4 email from a Pinewood Circle resident complaining about noise from motorcycles leaving the saloon.

“The noise they make, particularly as they accelerate from the stop sign at the end of Campground Road, is highly disruptive to the peace of the neighborhood, particularly on the weekends,” the letter read.

The letter asked selectmen to enact some form of noise limit on the saloon, to better enforce the town’s current noise ordinance, or to put in place some system that would re-route motorcycles going to and from the saloon around residential neighborhoods, forcing them to stay on Route 1 for as long as possible between Bentley’s and I-95.

Trefethen said the best solution may be to ask the York County Sheriff’s Office to beef up their patrols in the area of the saloon.

“It don’t think they really need to make any stops, just a presence will help people slow down and be respectful,” he said.

But board chairman Velma Hayes said there’s little to nothing the town can do to clamp down on Bentley’s directly, given that the saloon is not directly tied to the noise, and Warren works to mitigate it.

“I know they [bikers] are respectful when they come out of Bentley’s, because I’ve seen him standing there and they are very careful coming out of there,” she said. “But they get to the red light down at the Campground Road and, as soon as they are out of sight and sound of Bentley’s, they open up.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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