Freedom — August 16, 2005 — A long-awaited decision by the Freedom Planning Board on how long Totem Pole Park can remain open during the year will come one step closer after Thursday’s board meeting.
The board must decide whether a 2004 agreement between the condominium campground and the town will be revoked due to alleged violations by campground residents.
On Aug. 19 of last year, the Freedom Planning Board amended a 1988 agreement with Totem Pole Park, allowing the park to stay open 11, rather than six, months each year.
This agreement hinged on the park’s residents’ agreement not to declare residency, register to vote or register their cars in the town. Last year, town officials worried that the addition of the park residents as town citizens would force the provision of municipal services like education for campground children.
Before August 2004 was even over, however, campsite members had petitioned the New Hampshire Attorney General when Freedom officials denied their attempts to register to vote. Assistant Attorney General Bud Fitch told selectmen that the residents’ constitutional right to vote trumped the late August agreement between the town and the campsite. As a result, five Totem Pole residents registered in town and voted in last year’s national elections.
According to town selectmen, other legal parts of the agreement were violated by campsite residents. Fourteen vehicles, owned by members of the Totem Pole Association were registered in town, and 25 unauthorized wells were established on the lot even before the 2004 amendment was signed.
Because of these alleged violations, Freedom voters at last town meeting passed a warrant article advising revocation of the agreement. The article encourages, but does not necessitate, the revocation of the agreement by selectmen and the planning board.
But according to Chairman Les Babb, selectmen have advised the planning board to revoke the agreement. The board, which had been scheduled to address the issue July 21, had postponed the matter to August 18 and requested further information from the town regarding the alleged violations of the 2004 agreement.
At this Thursday’s meeting, Selectman Jim Breslin, who said he will “urge the planning board to rescind the agreement,” will supply the board with an updated list of registered Totem Pole resident-owned vehicles.
Breslin said the number has almost doubled since the initial figure of 14 was given last spring. Breslin said that despite the possibility of revocation of the agreement between the town and campsite, a number of Totem Pole Park residents continue to seek out vehicle registration at Freedom Town Hall.
“It’s a willful violation of the agreement,” Breslin said.
Although Breslin said he will encourage the board to revoke the agreement, he added that the next step in the process of possible revocation will be for the planning board to hold a public hearing on the matter prior to any official revocation.
As of Monday evening, Paul Corbin, president of the Totem Pole Association, had not been notified of the board’s upcoming agenda, and he was unaware that the town-campsite agreement would be publicly addressed Thursday. He added that he had not been notified regarding a number of recent meetings involving the Totem Pole Park.
Totem Pole Park is a condominium campground, located on Ossipee Lake in Freedom. There are 459 sites in the park, compared to the total Freedom population of just over 1,400.