The York, Maine, Board of Appeals on Oct. 26, denied Flagg’s RV and Cottage Resort LLC a reconsideration of a September decision upholding a town order for the company to remove six new units it moved into the York Beach camper park this past spring.
Seacoastonline.com reported that the town calls the units dwellings, which are not allowed in the park, while Flagg’s claims they are “park models,” recognized by industry, state and federal standards as recreational vehicles. RVs are allowed at Flagg’s as a legal, nonconforming use.
In their Sept. 14 decision, Appeals Board members said they had to make a decision based on town ordinances. Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal claimed the new units are not RVs by town standards because they are portable only as escorted “wide loads,” unlike street legal RVs; they do not have wheels underneath when parked; and have air conditioning condensers and propane gas tanks freestanding on concrete pads versus being attached as normally found on RVs.
Robert Moser, president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, which owns Flaggs, took issue with the basis of the Appeals Board September decision, called findings of fact. Moser claimed through his attorney, improper testimony was given at the Sept. 14 hearing about the wheels being removed from the units. Moser asked the board to reconsider both the wording of the findings of fact and its September decision. The board denied both requests Wednesday, according to McDougal. Therefore, his June 28 notice of violation and order to remove the six new dwelling units, stands.
The denial opens the door to a potential appeals by Flagg’s to the York County Superior Court. Neither Moser, nor his attorney David Ordway, of Saco, could be reached for comment Thursday (Oct. 27).
Seacoastonline.com reported that McDougal said York’s case is being watched as precedent setting. He has fielded numerous phone calls from officials in other towns who want to know how York is handling the issue, McDougal said. Park models have become the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
“Recreational vehicle parks have determined they can increase their cash flow and bottom line as a RV park if they do more rental use than just allowing people to bring in their own units,” Garpow said in July.
Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratago Springs, N.Y., owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. It has had no other problems with park models in other towns, according to Moser.
This past spring, Flagg’s management told 10 RV owners in the park to remove their RVs to make way for six new park models. One seasonal resident said he paid an estimated $5,000 a year to park his RV there, compared to the park models, which rent for an estimated $1,400 a week. This past summer, Flagg’s asked the remaining seasonal campers to pay upwards of $13,000 in membership fees to reserve summer spots in future years.
When Morgan tried a similar move at its Peters Pond development in Massachusetts, asking residents of the Cape Cod housing community to pay a $16,000 membership fee, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued the company for allegedly intimidating residents into paying what she called “exorbitant” fees, according to an Aug. 23 released statement from her office. After the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office sued, Morgan stopped pursuing the request for a membership fee at Flagg’s.