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Near Acadia National Park, moratorium on hotel development…

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By a landslide, voters in the Hancock County town of Lamoine this week enacted a moratorium on the development of hotels, motels, resorts and glampgrounds in the town for the next six months.

The prohibition was approved in a special town meeting by an estimated vote of 397-2, according to a news release. The hand vote made it difficult to provide an exact count of the residents who voted against the proposal.

The moratorium is intended to allow the town Planning Board to consider concerns regarding large-scale hotel development and to preserve the community’s rural, seaside character.

The vote came after a citizens group, Growing Lamoine Responsibly, campaigned in response to an Arizona corporation’s proposal to build a glampground in a residential neighborhood. According to the application submitted to the town earlier this year, CPEX LLC proposed to build a glamping resort called Clear Sky Resort-Acadia on two largely wooded parcels totaling 228 acres at 0 Partridge Cove Road (Route 204).

The moratorium was initially presented to the Select Board through a citizen’s petition, which collected 179 verified signatures, more than the number required to put the measure on a ballot.

Courtesy / CPEX, Anderson Engineering Inc.

The proposed glampground would have included 90 domed tents and other structures.

“Last night we experienced the largest attendance at a Lamoine special town meeting in anyone’s recollection,” said Amy Morley, a Lamoine resident and chief organizer for Growing Lamoine Responsibly. “The landslide vote sent a clear message … Lamoine residents do not want this type of development in their town.”

Lamoine is a town of fewer than 2,000 residents, according to the 2020 census, situated between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor. The project would have included 90 accommodation domes, ranging in size from 425 to 845 square feet, a 6,500-square-foot restaurant, 3,400-square-foot spa, 1,900-square-foot wedding dome, activity domes, a laundry dome, a 3,400-square-foot employee housing dome, maintenance dome and pool. 

Tree removal would have occurred in areas necessary for road construction, structure placement, parking, utility lines and wastewater treatment. A vegetated buffer of at least 20 feet would have been maintained along the property lines.

The original goal was to begin construction this summer and become operational a year from now.

Shared concerns

At a Planning Board public hearing in June, residents raised a host of concerns about the project’s potential impacts, including increased traffic, public safety, demand on public services, potential water pollution and the scope of the project in relationship to the size of the town.

According to the application, CPEX has another Clear Sky dome glamping resort in Grand Canyon Junction, Ariz. The Lamoine project would have been similar to that one. 

At the June hearing, Hal Feinberg — who founded CPEX and Clear Sky Resorts in 2020 — cited letters from Arizona neighbors who opposed that development but now approve of it. He said they had concerns similar to those of Lamoine opponents, including traffic, noise and lights. But the project was approved four years ago and was up and running a year later.

Arizonans who who formerly opposed that project expressed their approval once they saw it in action, Feinberg said, quoting one letter: “I have nothing but good things to say about them…I believe the town has been improved by them being here and they hired people from the local community as well.”

Feinberg said the company chose Lamoine as its next development opportunity because of attributes similar to those at the Arizona resort. That included Lamoine’s dark sky and its location close enough to a national park but far enough away from hustle and bustle.

He said that one concern of Lamoine residents, the proposal’s proximity to wetlands, would be a plus for the glampground because Clear Sky guests like to learn about wetlands and vernal pools as part of their outdoor experience. 

“Clear Sky Resorts’ mission is pretty simple. We’re passionate about preserving natural features. We want to minimize impact on neighboring landowners,” he said.

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