Ossipee – September 18, 2008 – Ossipee Lake webcam neighbor Doug Brown says he understands why people enjoy looking at the lake on the Internet, but hopes people will consider how the popular device, which can get 5,000 page views a day, has affected his family.
In a phone interview with Ossipee Lake Alliance, Brown said the webcam, which is angled over his property to get a view of Mr. Chocorua, has created a nuisance and safety issues because boaters come close to the shore to mug for the camera and have their picture taken.
He said the issues began this summer after the webcam was publicized in news articles and on the Alliance’s website. He said as many as 14 boats a day have come in to shore on weekends, sometimes in groups.
This summer he and visiting friends watched as two boats approached the camera from different angles and almost collided. In another instance, a jet ski narrowly missed hitting the Browns’ boat because the operator was using one hand to hold his cell phone and the other to wave at the camera while the craft was still moving toward shore.
“People for some reason feel that being on a webcam is like being on TV, and they come right up to our beach and act out in front of the camera,” he said.
Brown said the area in front of his property is shallow and some boaters have come close enough to shore to damage their prop.
“Our kids are in their teens but we have friends who visit with very young children and they swim right where the camera is pointed. We were never concerned about someone being hit by a boat until the camera started bringing boaters in here close to shore.”
Brown says he likes the idea of a lake webcam and has nothing against the camera’s owner, next-door neighbor John Rowe. He just wants Rowe to move the device to another spot on his property. Brown said he approached Rowe in August but the local businessman said people were used to the current view and he was reluctant to move it.
When Brown contacted the Marine Patrol he was told the agency can do nothing unless an officer observes a boater speeding or operating recklessly. When he asked about a missing red-top lake marker that used to keep boats away from the shore, he said he received conflicting answers about whether there is supposed to be a marker at the site.
In frustration, Brown said he turned to Ossipee zoning officials to question whether the camera should be prohibited in the lake’s residential zone because it’s a commercial enterprise that promotes Rowe’s business, Canoe King. Zoning official Dave Senecal reviewed the town ordinance, which makes no references to webcams, and said he didn’t think the camera could be defined as commercial because it doesn’t sell anything.
Since his complaint to town officials was made public, Brown said boaters have parked themselves directly off his beach as if to make a point. He said a small group came by last weekend, made hand gestures at him and proceeded to urinate off the boat.
The Browns, who are from Hampton, vacationed on Broad Bay for ten years before purchasing their camp-style property in 2004. They hope to retire on the lake one day and are upset that people think they’re trying to take the webcam off the air.
“We fell in love with the lake, had a dream, worked our butts off to pursue that dream, and now after finally being able to purchase our dream four years ago, we now have to deal with this,” he said.
“We didn’t create this situation, and we’re just trying to protect our interests. We’re the victims here.”
Brown said he hasn’t decided what to do next and hopes Rowe will reconsider and move the camera to another spot on his property, which he says should end the issue.
He said he has read most of the comments posted on Alliance website in response to the dispute, and hopes that people will consider the facts and look at the issue from his family’s perspective.
“This could happen to anyone on the lake. I hope people will put themselves in our shoes and ask what they would do if it were happening to them.”