Ossipee—January 3, 2017—A Superior Court judge has ordered that work related to the expansion of Westward Shores Campground must stop until Freedom’s lawsuit against Ossipee is resolved. The Town of Freedom is suing its neighbor for approving the expansion, which will double capacity at the business.
Work on the expansion began in the fall after Ossipee’s Planning Board granted the town’s approval. The work included activity on what’s known as the Peninsula, a low-lying, previously residential property on which the business wants to park 15 year-round rental RVs served by a new septic system.
In its court filing, Freedom argued that approval of the expansion should have been conditioned on having the owner, Northgate Resorts of Michigan, meet the terms of Ossipee’s Floodplain Ordinance because the entire campground is on the floodplain.
Without those protections, Freedom believes floods can compromise septic system connections and harm water quality, as well as dislodge RVs and their attachments, causing debris to float into the lake. Effingham has joined Freedom in the complaint against Ossipee’s approval.
Last month Freedom announced it would pay the legal cost of the case by raising funds privately. Town officials say they have obtained commitments for $12,000 of the $17,000 goal.
Existing Conditions Eyed
Meanwhile, the debate over the expansion has caught the attention of the state agency overseeing compliance with FEMA regulations, under which towns like Ossipee qualify for federal flood insurance.
Ossipee’s Floodplain Ordinance, which was adopted in 1995, is based on FEMA standards and requirements. One of those requirements is that that camping units cannot remain on the site for more than 180 days annually unless they comply with one of two options.
One option is that units be fully licensed and ready for highway use in case evacuation is required. The second option is that units be on a permanent foundation above the base flood level, and be securely anchored to resist flotation, collapse, and lateral movement. The base flood level is 414 ft., which is four feet higher than the elevation of most of the property.
People familiar with the campground say there are many units on the property year-round that do not comply with either requirement.
For example, none of the seven units listed for sale on the Westward Shores website appear to be elevated, yet all of them have one or more permanent add-on features that suggest they’re not road-ready. Those features include all-season rooms, manufactured carports, and wooden decks. One unit is advertised as having two wooden decks and a camp lot that is “fully landscaped.”
In its court filing, Freedom cited a “considerable number” of such “semi-permanent vehicles” on the property. Freedom officials worry that new units installed as part of an expansion could also be out of compliance unless Ossipee’s approval is conditioned on meeting the FEMA-based elevation and security requirements for units on site for more than 180 days.
The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning is responsible for developing model floodplain ordinances based on FEMA regulations. Jennifer Gilbert, Senior Planner and State Floodplain Program Coordinator for the agency, said her office is aware of the Westward Shores situation and is looking into it.
A summary of the Westward Shores situation may be found here.
“If the plan don’t fit, it’s time to quit.” Ya, that still applies.
LMFAO nice try WWS! Back to the drawing board !
Yikes, WWS went from thinking it was doubling it’s size to not meeting the floodplain ordinance for the majority of it’s existing campers.
That is not good for them!
What is amazing is the zoning violations that have been allowed to occur in that campground with the Town of Ossipee, including town hall, building inspector and fire officials, turning a blind eye all these years. Incompetence or corruption?
It is easy to point the finger at elected officials as failure to inspect and enforce current building standards rests on them. However the majority of blame should be directed towards prior owners of the campground who have allowed illegal construction to have occurred over the years.
Unfortunately the new owners have inherited this mess and now must now step up and burden the campground occupants financially to remove any illegally built add on rooms and/or decks and come into compliance to either raise and properly anchor their camper units or make them road ready, the latter option seems mute as the rate at which a flood can occur and the time to disconnect utilities from a trailer, hook it up, and move it to a safe elevation make it highly unlikely. That of course would depend on the occupant even being there and we know floods don’t just happen on weekends or during summer vacations.
I as a business minded person empathize with the new owners in having to deal with this and sympathize with the campers on what they will have to do moving forward.
The new owners “inherited” the mess? No Rick, they knowingly purchased a campground allegedly in violation of local, state and possibly federal regulations. They got the campground at a bargain price just because of these issues…so no tears need be shed for these out-of-state investors. But you are right, many of the current campers will not survive the coming enforcement of regulations ignored for the last decade. And in the end, the loss by those campers for making poor choices will result in a much more healthier lake for the rest of us!