Bankruptcy bid stalls campground auction in Schoodic region

Posted Feb. 17, 2009, at 9:35 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:46 a.m.

GOULDSBORO, Maine — The auction Tuesday of an oceanfront property has been delayed because the owner has filed for bankruptcy, according to people involved in the scheduled auction.

Ocean Wood Campground and its owner, James Brunton, owe more than $7 million to Schoodic Point LLC, which holds the mortgage on the property, according to John McVeigh of Portland, attorney for Schoodic Point LLC.

Schoodic Point LLC had moved to foreclose on the property and had scheduled an auction for Tuesday morning. According to Mike Carey of Tranzon Auction Properties, the auction is a required part of the foreclosure process.

The bankruptcy filing delayed that process.

“There was a bankruptcy filing this morning,” Carey said Tuesday. “Our client, Schoodic Point LLC, plans to contest that filing.”

What might happen with the campground, a 148-acre waterfront parcel in the village of Birch Harbor, has been the subject of local interest because of concerns among some area residents that it could become part of a proposal to build a large resort on nearby undeveloped land on the Schoodic Peninsula. The developer of the proposed project, Winter Harbor Properties Inc., owns 3,300 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula and has a right of first refusal to buy the campground.

Conservationists, including officials with Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia, have expressed concerns about possible development on the Winter Harbor Properties parcel, which abuts the Schoodic section of the park, because of the impact such development could have on the park and the peninsula’s relatively pristine character.

McVeigh accused Brunton of giving a right of first refusal to purchase the campground to Winter Harbor Properties without first informing Schoodic Point LLC. He said Tuesday afternoon that Schoodic Point LLC is not affiliated in any way with Winter Harbor Properties.

He said his client plans to contest the bankruptcy filing “rather vigorously.” A hearing on the filing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor.

Attempts Tuesday afternoon to contact Brunton, a software entrepreneur and head of the Pajaro Jai Foundation who lives in Westport, Conn., were unsuccessful. He did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone.

There is no indication in the bankruptcy documents that Brunton is being represented by an attorney in the bankruptcy filing.

An outgoing message on the campground’s answering machine indicated Tuesday that the campground would start accepting reservations for the coming season on Monday, Feb. 23. The message said the campground is expected to be open from early May to late October.

According to McVeigh, this is the second time in the past 18 months that Brunton has filed for bankruptcy on the eve of a foreclosure auction on the campground. The previous bankruptcy filing was dismissed after Schoodic Point LLC lent Brunton an additional amount of money that he was expected to repay two months ago, he said.

Schoodic Point LLC has tried in vain to contact Brunton about the overdue payments, McVeigh said.

“We’ve had nothing but silence,” the attorney said. “We think these bankruptcies were filed to delay the foreclosure sale.”

Friends of Acadia President Marla O’Byrne did not return a message Tuesday seeking comment about the possible fate of the campground.

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