MBNA plans expanded Point Lookout accommodations

By Lynda Clancy and Mark B. Odom | Jan 13, 2001

Northport — Maine's Department of Environmental Protection has issued a draft permit to MBNA, which will allow the credit card bank to build 66 new cabins at its Northport Point Lookout Conference Facility. Work is already underway there on an indoor skate park, and other amenities are planned, as well.

The main entrance to MBNA's Point Lookout facility off Route 1, in Northport. (Photo by Mark B. Odom)

Coastal Waters Project, the Rockland-based environmental group which has appealed -- and failed to stop -- several other MBNA projects at Point Lookout, has said it plans to appeal the newest cabin project.

The new cabins, which will be built on the former Old Massachusetts Homestead Campground recently acquired by MBNA, will bring the total number of cabins at Point Lookout to 106. The cabins are used for lodging for MBNA employees and their families.

The draft permit was issued on Thursday, and interested parties have five working days, until Jan. 19, to comment to the DEP on the cabin permit.

MBNA initiated its first development at the Ducktrap Mountain site in 1996 with the construction of its conference building near the brow of the hill overlooking Penobscot Bay.

MBNA's Rockland operations center project is on schedule. See update at rockland.k2Bh.com. Plus, 2000 was the company's best year ever. See press release.

Since then, the company has built at its corporate education center an additional function building, pavilion, access roadway, several additions, a fitness center, a softball field, a soccer field, 40 cabins, an access drive, a temporary school for Lincolnville's kindergarten through eighth-grade students, and utilities.

In the interim, MBNA has also acquired more land in that Northport area, bringing total land ownership there to 378.6 acres. MBNA has put 160 acres into conservation easement, following controversy over the ongoing development at the site, which includes deer habitat.

The proposed building sites on MBNA's Point Lookout recreational center include 66 new cabins and other construction. This map was included with MBNA's application to the DEP.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, all areas as "potential valuable deer-wintering sites are located to the north and east of the proposed cabin sites and the operations center," the permit states. "IF&W commented that minimal impacts to the wildlife resources are anticipated because the cabin sites are close to existing access ways well away from the anticipated deer wintering area boundary."

The Board of Environmental Protection has heard three appeals so far of MBNA projects at Point Lookout and may be hearing a fourth. Ron Huber of the Coastal Waters Project said he intends to appeal this permit allowing 66 cabins and its accompanying operations center.

"The Board of Environmental Protection is interested in this ongoing development in Northport as an area to explore the whole issue of cumulative impact," Huber said.

The BEP is a 10-member citizen advisory panel that hears appeals of decisions made by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and acts in a policy-making capacity.

Huber and MBNA have been arguing before the BEP since 1996 over the company's Northport developments. The BEP has upheld all the decisions of the DEP, but noted at its last meeting regarding Huber's appeal of MBNA's soccer field that cumulative impact was an issue the board needs to address.

In the draft permit, IF&W and the DEP "recognize that the project as presented contributes to the cumulative loss of wildlife habitat in the area. However, the applicant has avoided any impacts or intrusions to the Ducktrap Mountain Deer Wintering Area that IF&W documented as an area of concern when the project was initially proposed. By avoiding the deer wintering areas, some impacts to wetland habitats became unavoidable. The resulting wetland impacts have been minimized through project design," the permit states.

Approximately 19,142 square feet of forested wetlands and stream-associated wetlands will be filled. Prior to this particular cabin application, the DEP approved 35,568 square feet of wetland impact at Point Lookout.

"The applicant has compensated for these impacts by restoring a stream channel at the former Lenza property," according to the DEP.

"At project completion, wetland impacts on the entire Point Lookout site will total approximately 54,710 square feet," the DEP said. "At project completion, wetland compensation area for the Point Lookout facility will total approximately 63,540 square feet," the permit says.

According to DEP draft permit, most of the 66 new cabins will be located in the previously cleared campground sites. Construction of the project will generate approximately 100 cubic yards of tree stumps associated with land-clearing activities, the permit states.

"The associated paved 10-foot wide access drives and vehicle turnouts have been designed to follow the existing campground loop drives. Grading for associated drive construction has been minimized by closely matching the proposed access drives to existing grades. The exterior of all of the proposed cabins will consist of log siding painted dark brown, green trim, and dark textured roofing shingles," the draft permit states.

The cabins will range in size from 364 square feet to 1,250 feet in size; their heights ranging from 16 feet to 24 feet. Three septic disposal areas will handle the expected 4,560 gallons-per-day of waste.

"The proposed buildings associated with the proposed development will not be visible, or will be minimally visible, from any off-site vantage point," the permit says.

There will also be an operations center, providing office and warehouse space, with 24 parking spaces on another lot MBNA acquired adjacent to Route 1. That footprint will be 18,000 square feet and the building will be 25 feet high. Plans also call for a utility building, 66 square feet in size, 18 feet high.

The total project cost is estimated at $5 million, according to the permit. An MBNA spokesman said the cabins should be completed by July. Pittsfield-based contractor CIANBRO Corp. will do the construction of all of the new projects, said David Spartin, an MBNA spokesman based in Delaware.

The permit states that blasting for the proposed project will be limited and does not involve significant cuts into the existing topography. No large blast events are anticipated.

The skate park, already under construction at MBNA's recreational facility on Point Lookout. (Text retouched for clarity; image included with DEP application information)

Meanwhile, construction has begun at Point Lookout on a $1 million, 12,100 square-foot indoor skate park, intended for use by MBNA employees and their families, will be used for roller-blading and skateboarding, according to Spartin, who said that MBNA will "often invite local kids for demonstrations," and other events.

The Point Lookout skate facility is similar to one MBNA built outdoors in Camden.

"MBNA has made a commitment to expand its facilities within Maine. The Point Lookout facility serves as the corporate education center for MBNA. The proposed seasonal cabins will provide accommodation for people attending activities at Point Lookout," according to a Natural Resources Protection Act application prepared for MBNA by Jones Associates, Inc.

"The outside west and central areas of the access drive to the proposed cabins follows the existing campground roads. This design was used primarily to reduce impacts to the existing vegetation within the campground/cabin sites," the application states.

Activities that have been held at the facility to date include: "Business meetings for MBNA people as well as conferences held by community organizations; fundraising events; educational programs; recreation and family programs and sport clinics," the application states.

Part of the MBNA's Point Lookout property, which in its entirety totals 378.6 acres, is a Coastal Mountains Land Trust conservation easement, according to Judy Gates, licensing coordinator at the DEP's land bureau.

To date, MBNA has donated four conservation easements to CMLT. Point Lookout's easement, the largest of the four, measures 160 acres.

MBNA has "worked closely" with other conservation organizations in the region, but the four easements comprise all of such holdings by the company, Flynn said.

Two of their easements lie on Ducktrap Harbor and measure 4.3 and 2.5 acres, and one eight-acre parcel lies along Ducktrap River, according to CMLT Executive Director Scott Dickerson.

A conservation easement is "a type of deed which keeps the land in your private ownership, but has specific covenants that describe how the land can be used. The easement is donated to CMLT, which accepts a perpetual obligation to monitor the property and assure that the conservation protections you have designed with us will be sustained in the future," according to the CMLT web site.

There are presently no working zoning laws in Northport, except for shoreland and subdivision ordinances, which don't affect the MBNA property. Some new zoning regulation in the town might soon be on the drawing board, but would only affect commercial or residential regulation, said Town Clerk Tim Cummings.

MBNA paid $230,340.11 in property taxes to the town of Northport this year, according to Cummings, who added that the company is very prompt with its tax bill payments.

Flynn, who is based in Camden and in charge of MBNA's New England operations, would not say whether there would be any more expansion of the company's Point Lookout facility.

"At this stage, this is where we are," Flynn said Friday.

Related Links:

  • Department of Environmental Protection.

  • Board of Environmental Protection.

  • MBNA.com

  • Coastal Mountains Land Trust.
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