Public Nuisance or Public Service?

Ossipee – September 14, 2008 – A Broad Bay couple says they think their neighbor’s lake webcam is illegal and should be taken down. Lakeside property owners Doug and Donna Brown of Broad Bay Rd. made the claim at the Ossipee Board of Selectmen’s August 25 meeting.

“It’s creating a nuisance for us,” Doug Brown said according to the Carroll County Independent. “We’ve consulted the town’s zoning book and believe it’s illegal to be there; we’re in a rural area.”

The webcam belongs to the Browns’ neighbor, John Rowe, one of the owners of Canoe King on Route 16 in Tamworth. Pointed toward the north, the webcam has a sweeping view of Broad Bay and distant Mt. Chocorua and operates year-round. Viewers can access it through the Canoe King website ( and it has been linked to other websites that aggregate webcam images.

At the Selectmen’s meeting, Mr. Brown claimed the purpose of the webcam is to get people to “come to the store and buy stuff,” according to the story in the Independent. The meeting minutes add that Brown’s wife, Donna, expressed concern that the camera “points onto her beach property.”

The selectmen referred the Browns to the town’s zoning board to seek an administrative order. But Zoning Enforcement Officer Dave Senecal said he consulted with the town attorney and believes the issue is a civil matter in which the town is not involved.

“I reviewed the zoning ordinance with respect to the question of whether use of the web cam on private property constitutes a commercial use when the ‘feed’ from the web cam is provided to a commercial business,” Senecal wrote in a letter responding to the Browns’ complaint.

“In the Ossipee Zoning Ordinance…commercial is defined as a use primarily concerned with the making of a profit from the sale of goods and services. Under this definition, it is highly doubtful that the web cam falls within the definition of a commercial use.”

In an interview with Ossipee Lake Alliance last winter, Rowe said a friend in Vermont got him interested in webcams and inspired him to install one at his family home on Broad Bay. He said he was surprised how many people have become interested in it.

“People outside the area see the lake on the webcam and want to be here,” he said, but there probably are also a lot of summer residents who miss the lake and just want a quick look during the off-season. The webcam lets them come back anytime they want.”

The webcam site also has a public forum where viewers can post screen captures of dramatic storms and sunsets and make comments. While some of the comments focus on technical issues, most are about life on the lake.

“We live in Georgia but summer in Freedom,” a poster called nhcarla wrote in May. “We just found your webcam…It just makes us want to leave tomorrow to come up…Thanks again for bringing Freedom just a little bit closer to those of us that miss it so when we are away.”

In other recent posts, a California couple said the webcam let them feel like they were part of their child’s camp experience by keeping “up to date daily on what the lake looks like, what weather is coming through,” and a Nebraska resident wrote “I’ve never been to New England, but if I ever make it up there, I will feel like this spot is a bit of home.”

We were unsuccessful in reaching the Browns for comment on their complaint.


  1. John and Fran Conner 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    We are John Rowe’s summer neighbors on the other side of his home. We love checking out the bay view from our winter home in Naples, FL.

  2. Miguel Diocuore 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    >>“It’s creating a nuisance for us,” Doug Brown said according to the Carroll County Independent. “We’ve consulted the town’s zoning book and believe it’s illegal to be there; we’re in a rural area.”<<<


    Get a hobby….

  3. Philip Marks 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    I like it, Doug get a life.

  4. Amy Clark 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    I check the webcam every day and even use a “snapshot” as wallpaper on my computers. I love it! When living in the city gets to be a hassle, looking at the lake is a perfect antidote. It allows me to dream of being at Ossipee again.

  5. Don MacLeod 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    It is a much appreciated public service. I think I can see our property across the lake. I’m sure the webcam’s lake view can be adjusted in consideration of the neighbors. None of us own the water and the lake is very much a public space. It should be freely photographed, painted, or otherwise viewed.

    Hold Fast

  6. Jim 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    Long live the web cam

  7. Pat Clark 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    I, too, love the Web Cam— especially when I am in Maine where I spend my winters. It gives me wonderful picture of how the lake looks. Please don’t take it away!!

  8. Earle Wason 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    Mary and I really enjoy the Broad Bay web cam site, in the winter we are often in our Naples home and want to see how things look at home, we are on Berry Bay but this gives us a great feeling for how things are at home. How can it possibly hurt anyone.

  9. david kittredge 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    We like checking the level of snow and ice on the lake in the winter. It helps us decide when we will return to open our Ossipee house for the season. Keep the webcam in place.

  10. Mike Nolan 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    Since the Canoeking webcam was announced on the Ossipee Alliance news page, I have been checking in on an almost daily basis. I have seen the eagle fly by, boats on the lake, snowmobiles on the lake and the local weather. One thing that I have never seen is anyone on the shore near the wabcam. Doud I think you are wrong on this on. I would be surprised if you have many supporters.

  11. Lynn 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    We are neighbors of John Rowe and check the web cam daily when we’re at home in Mass. Can’t imagine how the Brown’s are negatively impacted by the camera’s view of Broad Bay and Mt. Chocoroua since their property is situated behind the camera’s line of sight.. Let’s not allow one sour grape to spoil the enjoyment of the majority of us, who derive such pleasure from keeping in touch with our vacation homes.

  12. P Tung 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    It is a great public service and very much appreciated by all who cannot be there yearround. I wonder if the Brown’s have something to hide?

  13. AC 16 years ago September 14, 2008

    diificult to respond to this without getting emotional…the web cam is very much appreciated.
    If there is anything or anybody that is a nuisance it is the Brown’s and their complaint. It’s hard to believe that people can put this much effort into being such donkeys.

  14. WebCamViewer 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I love the webcam and check it out weekly. But hey, just because some readers disagree with the Browns, you don’t need to insult them and speculate if they’re hiding something. (They’re using legal channels as any citizen should; and will probably come up empty.) Mob rule is ugly.
    Long live the webcam!

  15. Jim & Sue 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I have been watching the feed from your web cam daily for over a year now and we truly love and appreciate the “public service”. We can see the current weather, action on the lake as well as what has to be one of the most beautiful scenes! Thank you John…..

  16. Mike D 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I do not see any negative issue with this camera. We use it frequently to monitor weather or snow while we’re away from camp. Thanks for its availability and sorry for the unwarranted heat you’re having to carry. Some people do not realize what real issues are in life.

  17. David 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I have come to love the webcam, as it allows me to mentally transport myself from my crazy office in Boston to a place of peace and serenity. John – thank you for having the cam, and PLEASE DON’T CAPITULATE.

  18. Amused on the lake 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    Thanks for the contoversy. Until all this happened I didn’t even know about the Webcam. Now I can look at the Browns beachfront every day. But seriously what is going on here? Unless I am missing something the Browns property must be on the Western shoreline, and the Rowes property must be on the Eastern shoreline. The view of the Western shoreline is so distant that I can’t understand why the Browns would be concerned about it. Not only that but what is the definition of “neighbors” if they live on opposite sides of the bay about 3/4 miles apart? Maybe David should visit the Browns’ beachfront to see what’s going on that they don’t want anyone to know about.

  19. Diane 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    If someone’s privacy were being violated then I would clearly understand the objection. However, when I look at the photos, which I do frequently, all I see is the beautiful lake that I love. Frankly, if I were looking right at someone’s beach, I think it would be boring and wouldn’t bother to look! Keep the webcam so we can all see our lake from afar!

  20. Allan 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    Keep it! Keep it! Keep it!
    Love it! Love it! Love it!
    We check it every day especially when travelling. We are full-time Freedom residents and even use it to see how much traffic is on the lake. We think it is a public service!

  21. Broad Bay land owner 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    Have been enjoying the WebCam for quite a while and watching this story develop. To me it is a great “Public Service” and appreciate the time, and effort John took to implement. I understand there is complaint that it generating excessive boat traffic, come-on now its summer the boating season what do you expect. I am also on the bay & every year from June – September put up with far more “excessive boat traffic” than Mr. Brown could ever imagine. As for the violation of privacy, on any given weekend there must be 100 boats that pass by our dock & I enjoy the occasional “good morning” or friendly wave. It’s a lake, vacation time, enjoy it.
    I don’t knock the Brown’s for filing a complaint, it’s his right but I strongly feel it’s UNWARRANTED in this case.
    John, Please keep up the good work it’s appreciated.

  22. Broad Bay Freedom Resident 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    We own a home on Broad Bay and live out of state. Every morning we check the web cam to remind us how beautiful it is up there. It is particularly helpful during the winter to assess the snow fall and once again admire the beauty of the lake. Please do not take it down. The Browns need to be realistic.


  23. JC 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    thanks for the camera view, but I don’t believe this is the Canoe King web cam. This camera is fed to and is titled Ossipee lake cam and their is a link from Canoe King to see the Ossipee Lake web cam sponsored by I bet the Brown’s use the camera from home when they are away from the lake, the only reason they are complaining is because it is their neighbors property it is on. I bet they wouldn’t be complaining if it was across the lake.

  24. Steve Foley 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    The view of Broad Bay has never been commercial in my view but medicinal. I find comfort in my computer’s background of the lake and all its natural wonder and with the click of a mouse being able to see it live from here in Plymouth MA. You can’t sell or buy such beauty and to suggest so is to use this web cam as fodder for other problems.

    Thank you, Canoe King, wherever you are.

  25. Jim D. 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    Can’t say any more in support of this that has not already been said. The camera is like being able to visit the lake all year round. The camera has even inspired the installation of the same equipment in my school district to use in teaching weather. My schools students visit this webcam each day in their classes that involve weather and geography.
    Kudos to all who support this and to the Canoe King!

  26. Brian W 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I can’t express my appreciation for the webcam enough. Here in Chicago, I am too far away to check on my property on Broad Bay any other way. I check the camera daily. It brings peace of mind. It also promotes the region.

    I hope a reasonable solution can be found to the concerns so that this resource isn’t removed. I’d pay to keep it.

  27. John 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I would like to thank everyone for their support. I would also like to point out that the “Ossipee Lake Cam” does not, and has not been pointed toward the Brown’s property.

    JC is correct. The Ossipee Lake Cam has uploaded to since it was first installed in May of ’07. The purpose of the webcam is to show weather conditions in central NH on a snowmobile site, and not to foster business at Canoe King. Adding it to the Canoe King website was an afterthought.

  28. margie 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    God I cant even tell if everyone has taken their boats out of the water yet for the season! Sorry I just cannot understand this complaint but I would be devastated if this was taken down.

  29. Mrs. Moe 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    I stumbled upon the webcam in the Spring of ’07. We have a place on Broad Bay and every Sunday night, I go through a depression having to leave. So one Monday morning while I was sitting at work, I was thinking I wish there were a webcam so I could see the lake. To my surprise, I found the SledNH (Canoe King) webcam. It was a miracle cure! I check it multiple times during the day and have it has my internet home page. Sometimes we just enjoy the view, other times we use it to check conditions up there when we aren’t there, and at times we’ve even made appearances on it. One day I used it to watch my husband go across the lake on his snowmobile to make sure he made it across the lake safely!
    Our place is in the cove to the right of the webcam and since this discourse started, I’ve been watching to see if traffic in front of the webcam has increased and I can honestly say it has not. The neighbors should consider themselves lucky that when they are away from the lake they can actually enjoy the view from their own lake house. I cannot imagine life away from Ossipee without the webcam!!!!

  30. Vinny 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    As a 57 year resident on Broad Bay, I think the webcam is the “greatest thing since slice bread”. After I get my tax bill, I like to check out the webcam. It makes writing that check a little easier. Long live the webcam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Bud 16 years ago September 15, 2008

    We have been on Broad Bay 60 yrs. When we go to Florida for the winter it is a way for us to
    keep track of Broad Bay. All these people want it.Why should one person spoil it for all the others?

  32. Allie 16 years ago September 17, 2008

    i happen to go there often too and have noticed how dangerous it is to have a web cam. i have looked over to where it is and have seen what must be, the Brown’s family (children) trying to enjoy there beach and swim with jet skis and prop boats coming way too close to shore, yelling and waving at the cam. the lake was meant for everyone to enjoy, including them. i’m luckly not as close to the web cam and i can only imagine the trouble they are going through. I would not want my children’s lives to be endangered by idiots driving in very shallow waters with props to wave at a web cam. what is more important? saftey and enjoying the peace of the lake or placing people in harm’s way and disrupting someone else’s great “home away from home”
    i’m just asking you to look at it from their prospective. i would not want it pointing over my beach where i have small children that need to be protected. everyone is bashing them without thinking about it pointing over their beach. i don’t think they want to take it down, i just think they dont want it over their beach.

  33. Mike D 16 years ago September 17, 2008

    Some people must have better eyes than I do, I can’t see the camp or kids. If I’m in range of the camera in my kayak and someone in a boat goes too fast or too close that’s the cameras fault ???

  34. Stacy 16 years ago September 17, 2008

    I agree that the view is excellent and it is in fact breath taking and I wish I had a place up there myself. If so many people like it, there is no way it will be taken down, but why couldn’t it just be turned slightly away from the Brown’s property to keep everyone happy?
    If safety is a factor, I would suggest marking the usual swim area with some brightly colored bouys that are anchored down. This way the children can swim safely and the boats/ jet skis will stay far enough off to the side.
    There is usually a compromise available for every situation, it just needs to be found.

  35. Stacy 16 years ago September 17, 2008

    Also the name calling is very, very uncalled for. We are all adults, so let’s act like it.

  36. Barbara W 16 years ago September 17, 2008

    I have been on Ossipee Lake for over 50 years and think the webcam is wonderful. I look at it at least once a day and see if I can go to my lake home to sail. It is a great service to the people that can’t be there all the time. Their ircives are fabulous. I have NEVER seen anyone swimming on the cam and it is not pointing to any beach except across the lake and it is hard to see anyone swimming. If the Brown’s don’t like boat traffic they should not be on the lake. KEEP THE WEBCAM. Thank you John

  37. Jill 16 years ago September 18, 2008

    wow, apparently I am not the only one that sits at work all week and stares at the WebCam wishing I was there!