Trailer upgrades, site improvements, potential sale of limited area part of proposal

Camp DearbornThe City of Dearborn has started discussions about future improvements at Camp Dearborn, including investing in TV2 and taking progressive steps to ensure all trailers at the park in Milford meet state and Camp standards.

An important part of the discussion is exploring a potential sale of a 40-acre corner of Camp Dearborn in TV2. A sale of any part of Camp Dearborn requires voter approval at a citywide election.

Under discussion is the idea that proceeds from the sale of the northwest corner of TV2 would be reinvested back into Camp Dearborn to upgrade other RV sites and improve infrastructure in TV2, an area reserved for seasonal campers.

 About 185 mobile homes and 18 RVs have year-to-year leases in the 40-acres being considered for a potential sale. Many of the trailers are more than 50 years old, well beyond their expected life span.  This has resulted in issues such as faulty wiring causing fires, and it makes it difficult for owners to properly maintain their units. It also has led to complaints about the appearance of the area.

In 2013, Camp Dearborn stopped allowing mobile homes larger than 400 square feet to move in after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it expected to prohibit the addition of these size units in campgrounds.  Now, proposed state legislation might prevent those units from being moved elsewhere in the campground.

A 2012 Camp Dearborn feasibility study recommended redeveloping or selling the 40 acres to “rightsize” TV2 and to help fund the development of more full-hookup RV sites. At that time, the sale was expected to generate $600,000.  TV2 has 675 sites available for rent by the year.

Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. met on September 23 with about 150 campers with leases in the affected area to discuss the proposed changes.  Mayor O’Reilly shared his vision of making Camp Dearborn and TV2 more attractive to campers of today and tomorrow.

Camp Dearborn is considering offering lease discounts to help owners in the affected area upgrade their units to RVs and possible assistance with moving trailers.  By Camp policy, all trailers must be moveable.  All mobile homes and RVs at camp are privately owned, and moving or removing them is the responsibility of the owners.  Those who have been leasing spots would be offered a different RV site in the campground.

City administrators are working on details that would set the conditions of a potential sale. Later this year, the City Council possibly could be asked to authorize Mayor O’Reilly to work with Milford Township to rezone the 40-acre area from recreation to suburban residential.  The area is adjacent to Garner Road, and the feasibility study suggested it could be sold for a subdivision development. Another subdivision already sits just east of the site.

Before any sale could proceed, voters would need to approve a ballot proposal during a citywide election. The proposal could be placed on the ballot by the City Council, or be placed on the ballot by voter initiative.

Under the City Charter, the mayor does not have the authority to sell property at Camp Dearborn or to put a question on the ballot.

Under this tentative proposal, any ballot question would likely not appear before voters until next summer or fall. If approved for sale by voters in an election, the 40 acres of Camp Dearborn likely would not be available for sale before 2019.

In addition to the TV2 trailer area, the 626-acre Camp Dearborn offers 118 tents, rustic cabins and new resort cabins for rent, and 191 temporary sites for campers to set up their own tents and RVs. These amenities are not in the 40-acre area under consideration for a possible sale.

Camp Dearborn also includes Mystic Creek Golf Course, six lakes, a beach, fishing areas, bike trail and a heated swimming pool for campers. These are also unaffected by the potential sale of the 40 acres.