Just six months after the Bangor City Council rejected a controversial rule change that would have allowed campgrounds, RV parks and golf courses to be proposed on certain rural sections of Stillwater Avenue, the council will soon consider making another change that would have the same effect.
But the proposal failed to win the support of a majority of planning board members Tuesday night. The planning board voted 4-3 against recommending the amendment, which has been requested by a Newburgh woman, Cindy DeBeck, who wants to build a seasonal RV park on 70 acres of land that she owns between Walmart and the Penjajawoc Marsh.
The change would group Stillwater Avenue with two other Bangor roads — Broadway and Union Street — in which campgrounds, RV parks and golf facilities are allowed to be developed in areas with rural and agricultural zoning.
The four opposing members of the planning board expressed concern about the long-term impact that campgrounds, golf courses or driving ranges could have on the Penjajawoc Marsh, as well as about the RV traffic it could add to busy Stillwater Avenue.
“I understand your intent for the development of the parcel,” Planning Board Member John Kenney told DeBeck before he voted against the measure. “I’m sure you have great intentions, but I’m really opposed to this because it opens up all that area for very intense uses, not just your use.”
Kenney added that he might be willing to support the change if it included more safeguards on the types of development that can occur and if there were more opportunities for discussion with the Bangor Land Trust, which has worked to preserve the marsh and opposes the change.
On Tuesday, DeBeck described her proposed business as an “RV resort” that would cater to retirees who want to spend the summer in Maine. “It’s not a campground,” she said. “There won’t be fireworks. There won’t be motorized vehicles” such as dirt bikes and ATVs.
She said that her family has owned the land near the marsh for more than a century and that she is interested in protecting it. She also suggested that she would be willing to develop a different kind of business that does not require a zoning change if the current proposal is not approved.
Without the Planning Board’s endorsement, two-thirds of the council will need to support the amendment for it to pass. A simple majority would have been required if the Planning Board recommended the change. City officials did not announce what date the proposal will go to the council.
If the council approves the amendment, the RV park would be subject to other requirements, such as connecting to sewer and water lines, and operating at least 50 feet away from public roads. The project also would need additional approval from the planning board.
In March, the council voted 7-2 against a rule change that would have allowed campgrounds, RV parks, golf courses and driving ranges to be proposed in some rural and agricultural areas along the city’s major arterial roads. Unlike with the current proposal, the planning board voted 4-3 to recommend that change.
But the effect would have been the same as with the current proposal, since Stillwater Avenue is the only major Bangor road besides Union Street and Broadway that has areas with rural and agricultural zoning, according to City Planner David Gould.