This January 2020 file photo shows utility poles in a cleared swath of trees that was cut partially and accidentally on a neighboring property as part of an expansion project at Camp Capella to build a cabin and publicly accessible nature trails. The camp, Village of Lucerne officials and a land trust that owns an easement on the abutting property, which belongs to the village, have reached formal agreements on replacing and maintaining the trees and on how the camp will develop and use the camp property. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A summer camp on Phillips Lake has reached a deal so it can move forward with adding an overnight cabin, roofed pavilion and trail network to its 28-acre lakefront property in the Village of Lucerne.

Camp CaPella, the Village of Lucerne and the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust finalized the agreement this past fall after the camp, which serves children and adults with disabilities, mistakenly cut dozens of trees and installed power poles on land owned by Lucerne in 2019. The Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust has a development easement on and manages the land where the trees were cut down.

The poles, erected to provide electricity to a parking area where the camp planned to build two cabins, have since been moved onto camp property. And a licensed forester last year planted more than 80 trees on village property, said Ann Fossett, chair of Lucerne’s board of overseers. The trees were also watered to ensure they survived the drought, she said.

Lucerne is an incorporated village within the town of Dedham, approved by the Legislature in 1927, that has its own elected board of representatives — called overseers instead of selectmen — and its own development standards separate from the rest of the town.

Under the agreement between the camp, village and conservation trust, Camp CaPella will allow public access to the trails that will be built on the property, and it will create a small parking area by the trailhead and transfer ownership of the parking area to the village. The camp has also agreed to provide two abutting property owners and the village with a stormwater runoff and erosion control plan for an access road that it built to the site.

The camp now plans to build just one cabin, instead of the two it originally planned, according to the development agreement. Doris Buffett, the late sister of billionaire Warren Buffett who gave the camp $500,000 in 2010, had pledged $80,000 toward construction of the cabins.

Under the development agreement, the camp will seek approval from the village planning board for the proposed trails and cabin, limit outdoor events at the property to not-for-profit use and not allow sound amplification on its property, among other things.

Neighbors of the property, located off Poplar Road just west of the Lucerne Inn and to the immediate north of railroad tracks that run between Brewer and Ellsworth, had raised objections, suggesting that the access road did not meet construction standards and was contributing to aggravated stormwater runoff downhill from the site to abutting waterfront properties on Phillips Lake. None of the parties involved have objected to the camp’s plans to build trails and a cabin on the site.

“We are satisfied with the agreements,” said Fossett, chair of the village’s board of overseers.

The camp has yet to apply for building permits for the trails, cabin and a roofed pavilion that it says it wants to build, she said.

Landon Fake, executive director of Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, said the agreements represent “a good compromise for all the competing interests.”

“For our part, keeping our conservation easement area as intact as possible was the goal,” he said.

Harvey Chesley, executive director of the camp, did not respond to a voicemail message late this week.

Bill Trotter

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....