Danforth Bay Campground Plans Expansion

Freedom — January 8, 2005 — At a combined meeting of Freedom’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment on January 4th, the town gave conditional approval to the Hoyt family to create 350 new lots on a 157 acre parcel northeast of their Danforth Bay Camping Resort.

The Hoyts were represented at the meeting by attorney Randy Cooper, who presented details of the development, which is called The Bluff at Danforth Bay. Designed for campers with RVs, The Bluff will include a 4,000 to 6,000 foot recreation hall, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. A map submitted with the proposal shows the campground will be approximately 300 feet from Huckins Pond, an undeveloped body of water that is popular with fishermen, kayakers, and canoeists.

The town’s approval of the plan is subject to a number of restrictions. There may only be two registered campers per lot, and one of them must be 50 years or older. In addition, the development must be closed between December 1st and March 31st. The present Danforth Bay complex is open for most of those months for RV owners and people renting one of the property’s “four season” cabins, according to the campground’s website.

Left unclear from the meeting is the extent to which the Hoyts intend to open Huckins Pond for water recreation by campers. While kayaks and canoes can be found there in abundance, powerboats do not have access because the river connecting the pond to Danforth Pond is shallow, filled with rocks and blocked by beaver dams. The roads to Huckins Pond are private.

The current Danforth Bay campground has a boat ramp, docks, and boat slips for campers along a half-mile stretch of beach and shorefront on upper Danforth Pond. In April, 2001 the Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a “54 slip marina” at the resort, a decision that was quickly appealed to the State by neighboring Danforth Pond property owners concerned about crowded boating conditions. The State subsequently approved a scaled-down application for 32 boat slips.

Below is the Carroll County Independent’s coverage of this story on 1.8.05

Reprinted by courtesy of the Carroll County Independent

Freedom Boards Review Campground Application

By Lori Lenart

Freedom — January 6, 2005 — During what turned out to be a three-hour meeting, the Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed to grant Bob Hoyt of Purity Springs a special exception to the zoning regulations.

The board decided the proposed seasonal campground to be located adjacent to Danforth Bay Campground off Shawtown Road did not change the essential character of the area. The board required that Hoyt meet certain requirements to obtain the exception.

As part of the zoning regulations, the proposed campground, to be called the Bluff at Danforth Bay Camping Resort, must agree to close between December 1 and March 31; not allow any more than two registered campers per site, one of which must be 50 years or older; and not allow the operation of ATVs, OHRVs or jet-skis within the campground. Only staff would be allowed to use either ATVs or OHRVs as part of their function at the campground.

The proposed campground, with between 300 and 350 campsites, would also have a 4,000 to 6,000 square foot recreation hall, tennis courts, a pool, and parking area.

The public hearing, held Tuesday night, was a joint meeting between the planning board and the zoning board of adjustment, with all Selectmen attending as observers.

Hoyt, one of the owners of Purity Springs Resort, would like to build an addition to the already existing Danforth Bay Campground with between 300 and 350 new campsites for recreational vehicle owners, accessible from an independent road from Shawtown Road. Hoyt applied for a special exception to campground zoning regulations through the ZBA and a site plan review by the planning board.

Hoyt’s engineers, Ray Cowan and David Jordan of SFC Engineering, presented the concept of the project to the two boards. They said that they have completed wetland delineations and basic topographic and soil surveys to determine usable land.

According to Freedom’s zoning ordinance, buildable land is defined by having at least a 25% grade and having porous enough soils to support a septic system. Subdivision regulations allow about 206,000 gallons per day to be engineered, which would allow for over 2,300 sites to be created in the lots.

The campground’s proposed amount is 30,000 to 40,000 a day coming out to 90 gallons of water per site. The engineers determined from the survey of three adjoining lots to be used in the development there was about 157 acres on which they could build. This land is also within the required setback from wetlands and shoreland.

Town officials were concerned that the proposed access road and internal roads be wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles in case of fire or other emergencies. The engineers stated that the main access road would be 20 feet wide, and the roads within the clusters would be 18 feet wide, and there are two existing entrances at the current campground.

Freedom Conservation Commission

Les Babb, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, read a letter from the Freedom Conservation Commission. They said they were concerned with the impact on wetlands by the expansion of Shawtown Road, and that the septic design be adequate; the impact of increased recreational activity on the lake and surrounding areas, the dates of operation and whether or not the they would ever be expanded, and the impact of more traffic flow on near-by roads.

Impact to the Town

Jane Davidson said she was concerned that the proposed campground not become a condominium complex, like the one at Totem Pole Campground, with an increased number of voters and children in the schools.

Randy Cooper, Hoyt’s attorney, explained that it would be difficult to introduce kids to a school of they were not living in the area between December and March, which was the proposed schedule. But, he said, “you can’t keep them from registering if they are here more than 180 days of the year.” They won’t be in town for Town Meeting in March.

Tim Powers, the project manager, explained that as part of the permitting process, the campground had to be characterized as seasonal, not year-round. He said that permanent housing could not be used, and the site could not be engineered to support the required 300 gallons a day of water usage.

In response to land use densities increasing to beyond what the town could support, Cooper told the boards that their current regulations allow for over 2,000 sites on the given acreage. If they were concerned with the high numbers, he said, they should change the regulations accordingly, which was in their power.

Shawtown Road Expansion

The boards also discussed the engineering and construction of the expansion to Shawtown Road. Geraldine Lippincott made a motion to allow Hoyt to use his own engineer to design the road, but that the town’s engineer would have to approve the design and make inspections during the construction process. The board added that the road would need to be build according to subdivision regulations.

Because many of the requirements overlap between the two boards, the two boards met together to streamline the application process for Hoyt. The meeting also gave them an opportunity to determine each board’s ultimate jurisdiction.

The planning board has a 65 day time limit to review the completed application but the zoning board does not have such time constraints. Cooper told the boards that the zoning board needed to grant the special exception before the planning board could grant their approval to the permit.

As a group, the two boards agreed that everything except determining the project’s impact on the character of the area would fall under the jurisdiction of the planning board.

Once that was established, the zoning board discussed the issues of hours and dates of operation and registered camper characteristics, such as age and number of registered campers per site.

All members of the zoning board granted the applicant the special exception with the following conditions: that there could only be two registered campers per site, that one of them had to be 50 years old or older, and that there would be no kids registered at the site. The applicant was also the one who suggested the restrictions on ATV use.

Each board then adjourned, with the planning board agreeing to meet with the applicants again during their February meeting, February 17, to discuss their application further. Ralph Kazanjian said that the applicant needed to have a completed application at that time or apply for a waiver.

Hoyt will have to bring more details on lighting and signage associated with the campground, more detailed information about traffic impact and patterns on new and existing roadways, information on proposed landscaping, drainage facilities, and fire protection facilities; and a map of existing buildings associated with both campgrounds.

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