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Maine Communities Grapple with Glamping Developments

Some communities in Maine are pushing back on plans to develop glampgrounds that seek to offer an outdoor hotel-like experience. 

In recent years, resorts have been springing up all over the state, with a notable increase in glamping resorts around Acadia National Park. 

These include nearby Surry, now home to Under Canvas, Acadia Wilderness Lodge in Tremont, Terramor Outdoor Resort in Bar Harbor, and a handful of smaller, family-run operations.

A public hearing is scheduled on June 5 in the town of Lamoine to discuss a new proposal. The plan involves the construction of 90 domed units on Partridge Cove. The development also includes a restaurant, spa, employee quarters, and “activity domes” for guests to enjoy bird watching and star gazing. The project aims to preserve the natural beauty of the area, with only 12 acres of land being developed and the remaining 230 acres left as open space.

The guest domes, ranging from 425 to 845 square feet of floor space, would be the size of a comfortable New York City apartment and come complete with electricity, air conditioning, fireplaces, and private bathrooms.

Glampgrounds have caused controversy in Maine, with residents voicing concerns about fire safety, wastewater treatment, noise, and traffic. 

They also have created complications for local officials, as the sites could fall into a new regulatory category – not quite a campground, not quite a hotel – for which many communities have yet to develop ordinances. Some are even wondering how to assess the canvas tents for tax purposes.

In Tremont, voters adopted the most stringent campground restrictions in Hancock County, with rules around setbacks, density, and a new definition for “recreational lodging facilities,” after a proposal for a 154-site campground generated considerable controversy, including a court case, a moratorium on campground development, and the formation of a citizen’s group opposed to the plans. 

With the popularity of Acadia National Park, tourists are increasingly exploring the surrounding areas, leading to the rise of short-term rentals in communities across the county.

Glamping business owners and developers see it as a way to expand camping beyond the traditional market, including to those who may have mobility issues but want the experience of sleeping outside under the stars. 

The National Park Service has been fielding increased calls for accessible campsites with stable, level surfaces without roots or rocks, and specially-designed fire pits, picnic tables, and trash receptacles.

“We saw people looking for unique ways of experiencing the outdoors, and not everyone is interested in traditional camping,” said Kampgrounds of America CEO Toby O’Rourke in an interview with the New York Times. KOA owns Terramor, which opened its flagship luxury camping resort in Bar Harbor in 2020, and has plans to expand around the country.

Residents also formed a group, Citizens Against Terramor, to oppose the plans  for a similar resort in the Catskills after concerns that the project “did not meet criteria across several key benchmarks to warrant moving forward, citing concerns over water supply and wetland impacts. 

Concerns about the size of the proposed project have been raised, as expressed by Lamoine resident Frank Donnelly, who has lived in the town for 40 years. He said, “It’s too big. This area is being overdone.”

As glamping continues to gain popularity and expand into new areas, it is essential for glamping business owners to consider the possible challenges they may face, such as local regulations and community concerns. 

To navigate these challenges successfully, business owners should focus on maintaining open communication with local authorities, residents, and stakeholders, as well as staying informed about evolving regulations and industry best practices. 

Emphasizing the positive impact of glamping, such as providing accessible outdoor experiences for those with mobility issues and promoting eco-friendly practices, can also help create a more receptive environment for this growing industry. 

By proactively addressing potential obstacles and fostering a cooperative relationship with local communities, glamping businesses can better position themselves for long-term success.

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April 7, 2024 5:36 pm

Have you heard about the buzz around glamping developments in Maine? It’s not just about fancy domed units. there’s a real need for careful environmental assessments to keep things sustainable. I think it’s essential for everyone to work together to strike a balance between enjoying glamping and protecting Maine’s beautiful natural areas.


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Maine Communities Grapple with Glamping Developments! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/maine/maine-communities-grapple-with-glamping-developments/