Westward Shores Campers Given Deadline to Comply With Zoning Regulations

Freedom—March 11, 2018—As a new camping season approaches, Westward Shores campers face a deadline of October 20 to ensure that their trailer or RV complies with Ossipee’s Floodplain Ordinance. Those who fail to do so risk being asked to leave the property.

In a letter to its campers, the campground said the compliance mandate was the result of a finding by FEMA and the Town of Ossipee that some units on the property did not meet the floodplain ordinance’s requirements for recreational vehicles, which provide safety and environmental protections in the event of a flood.

Ossipee’s zoning requires that recreational vehicles on the floodplain for more than 180 days must be fully licensed and ready for highway use in case an evacuation is required. As an alternative, trailers and RVs may be securely anchored after being elevated so that the floor of the vehicle is at or above the defined base flood level.

In addition to being registered, a vehicle that is “highway ready” must be on its wheels or jacking system, be connected to quick-disconnect type utilities, and have no permanent attachments. Campers who choose instead to elevate and secure their recreation vehicle above the base flood level must obtain a permit and “elevation certificate” from Ossipee before work commences.

Certain types of accessory structures, such as three-season rooms, will be permitted on the property subject to the approval of both the campground and the town, but only if they are not stick-built or considered to be permanent.

In its letter, the campground said the impact of complying will vary, with some campers having simply to register their vehicle while others will have to remove stick-built add-ons. The campground said it will help campers coordinate with the town to “accomplish the goal of becoming fully compliant with floodplain regulations and in turn protect your investment in your RV.”

The focus on zoning compliance is one of the outcomes of Freedom’s 2016 lawsuit against Ossipee, in which it argued that the neighboring town’s approval of the campground’s expansion plan threatened water quality and violated Ossipee’s floodplain ordinance, which is based on FEMA guidelines.

The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, which oversees federal flood insurance eligibility for towns like Ossipee, conducted a site visit to the campground last year. It subsequently worked with campground officials and the town to write the compliance letter that was then sent to campers under the signature of the campground. An Ossipee official said the town has also advised all other campgrounds about the need to comply with the town’s floodplain requirements.

The lawsuit between Freedom and Ossipee ended last summer after Freedom reached a settlement agreement with Westward Shores in regard to key environmental issues, including the design of the septic system for the Peninsula property. The settlement document also required the campground to ensure that its campers comply with the floodplain regulations for recreational vehicles.

At the time of the settlement, the Ossipee and Freedom select boards agreed in principle to issue a joint statement about protecting the lake and working “face to face” if issues arise in the future, in order to avoid misunderstandings and needless litigation.

Each town signed a version of the joint statement but could not agree on the final wording. A joint version remains unsigned.

Read the FEMA letter to Ossipee here. Read the Northgate/WWS letter to campers here.

Westward Shores Campers Given Deadline to Comply With Zoning Regulations

25 thoughts on “Westward Shores Campers Given Deadline to Comply With Zoning Regulations

  • March 11, 2018 at 3:17 pm
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    There’s some real dumps in there, fire hazards as well as environmental issues as well. Long overdue that the campground be cleaned up and forced to abide by flood and safety regulations. There has been a number of fires in there over the last decade, including another one this winter, some involving poorly built additions. Guess we’re lucky they haven’t burned the whole forest down yet!

  • March 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm
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    What is missing in this article is that Westward Shores continued to market and sell units with stick-built additions all of last summer stating that those units are “grandfathered”. Many who bought this past summer are now being told that their additions must be taken down. It will be interesting to see what Westward Shores does to help mitigate a large financial loss for those who were sold these units.

  • March 11, 2018 at 9:23 pm
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    How about the Ossipee lake campground on Leavitt Bay?

    Or is the town just getting even?

  • March 12, 2018 at 7:18 am
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    It’s about time that this issue is being resolved…..Good to see that the Town of Ossipee can work with other towns when it come to environmental issues…Feel sorry for people who got lied to by the new owners of the campground…..Hope they make it right…. As for Englishes campground on Leavitt bay…..I don’t think that’s in a flood plane….

  • March 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm
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    @Don Harnois – Ossipee Lake Camping Area on Leavitt is in Effingham, and may not be in the flood plain so the requirements are likely different.

  • March 13, 2018 at 7:44 am
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    This should come as no surprise to any Westward Shore camper. This has been going on for two years, ever since the new owners proposed the expansion upon their purchase. There has been many public hearings, dozens of news articles and countless meetings open to the public. Shame on any camper that didn’t do their homework and bought a camp that was illegal. While this won’t stop the expansion of Westward Shores and the noise, crowding and pollution that comes with it, it will certainly clean up the illegal activities that the Town has ignored for many years. Hopefully it will help protect the lake for my generation and many more to come. Thank you Westward Shores and many will be watching to make sure the deadline obeyed.

  • March 19, 2018 at 11:29 am
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    The campers in Westward Shores have been building beautiful additions for years. Never a peep out of the Town of Ossipee. We were all led to believe that all was well. Paid taxes for many years. Had Ossipee assesors in there checking values many times. So now the new owner wants to add sites to the park and all the local Greenies and the this is our lake crowd get all pissed off. I just get the feeling of it is a not in our backyard tantrum. Yes, there are rules that have been overlooked by EVERYBODY. But it is not right that people/campers that are at Westward Shores should assume the brunt of this. There should be a better way. The young and old families that are in there have a big investment as far as little camps go. Why can’t the terms of compliance not be financially devastating.

  • March 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm
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    Very well said. Northgate Ossipee LLC bought Westward Shores well aware of flood plain issues. Now that WWS and the town of Ossipee are faced with FEMA compliance issues they are taking it out on the campers making it their issue – not taking full responsibility for the impacts on the families that have made WWS such a great campground.

  • March 19, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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    “Deb” Our camp was bought last summer. We were told over and over again that our camp was grandfathered in by the new owners. Your blaming new owners is insulting and inappropriate. We were aware of flood plain issues but were insured that the campers that were for sale were not going to be an issue since they were raised and above the 100 yr flood stage.

  • March 20, 2018 at 10:52 am
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    Regardless of who is to blame the law is the law no matter how long it has been broken. As a nearby landowner I remain very skeptical that 200 new units will not harm the lake. But I can make sure along with my neighbors and our great stewards of the watershed, that the campground come into compliance by the date they agreed to in the court order. Hopefully if things are as you say they are you can get some kind of compensation for your purchase. But those stick built additions and buildings along with the sewer problems need to be cleaned up by the date agreed upon in October.

  • March 23, 2018 at 8:01 pm
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    @ossipee lake watch dog, when was the last time you went into the campground? There are more beautiful trailers and additions then run down! Please come and check it out. @ Deb you are punishing families because your mad WWS got the expension approved! That’s not very neighborly. I just hope karma doesn’t bite back and the town makes residence jack their houses up to be higher then the flood plan! No matter how you feel it still is not fair to the new or legacy campers. The town and Northgate are not offering any compensation. So when every one leaves and they put trailers side by side like Maine, there will be triple the amount of people. Enjoy

  • March 24, 2018 at 1:51 am
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    There are some nice campers and additions in WWS.
    The problem is they pushed for to much to fast and not caring about campers.
    Management made friends in WWS just long enough to use them.
    There is a Class Action lawsuit happening with campers and the owners.
    WWS pushed the town, the people and the towns around the lake.
    NOW FEMA is involved, and now campers need to jacked up and anchored because they ARE in a flood zone.
    FEMA is now requiring all campergrounds in NH that are in a flood zone must follow the same requirements WWS has with raising campers and anchoring.
    This family camperground the last two years has been flushed down the toilet.
    Management has sad for two year they aren’t in a flood zone, we don’t flood, but the last few rain storms have proven that to be wrong.
    Sad for all campers left behind!

  • March 24, 2018 at 8:34 am
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    “Following” and several other apparent affected campers keep spreading misinformation and half truth. FEMA isn’t requiring anything new, or enforcing any new policy. Flood plain rules have been in effect for decades. They are normally enforced through the zoning and building inspectors at the local level. Ossipee did not do that, and was forced to come in to compliance not by WWS, but by a neighboring town. It’s all clearly documented in the Superior Court agreement, whether some campers like it or not. Additionally the inference that all camps need to be raised and anchored is false. Once illegal structures and additions are removed the camper has a choice to go through the permitting process to raise and anchor, or simply lower their unit back to the ground as what was always intended of itinerant campsites in this State. Also, there is no such thing as a “legacy” camper at WWS. All contracts, by NH law, are for only one season at a time with no guarantee of renewal. This is to prevent what some campers are now trying to claim, that their illegal structures and additions are somehow “grandfathered” which in effect would give them quasi-resident status, which is clearly forbidden under current State law. The issue is simple. A number, but not all, WWS campers skirted federal, state and local ordinances by trying to build lakeside homes without obtaining the necessary permits and permissions required of bonified residents like myself. If some campers can prove, as alleged, that management gave them a guarantee that would be in conflict with their annual contract and state law, then while it may help them financially it does not change the fact that the illegal activities in that campgroundceill still need to come to an end this year. Remember, the piper always gets his due, and the piper is now playing loudly across the wetlands of WWS.

  • March 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm
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    Misinformation? This is misleading in and of itself. I do not argue that the FEMA regs. have been in place for some time and the Town of Ossipee have not enforced these regulations and that previous owners of WWS allowed these buildings to be built. Remember the town is collecting property taxes on these structures. The problem here is that Northgate-Ossipee LLC (WWS) continued allow some of these builds, and continued to market and sell non-compliant units promising them that these units were grandfathered in. WWS lied to people outright! I do not know that the will be the remedy for all this but blaming the campers and accusing them of spreading misinformation is not fair. We are trying to figure this all out and trying our to best understand how this all came to be while not wanting to loose our investments of money and time.

  • March 24, 2018 at 12:55 pm
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    In response to requests to see the public documents, we have embedded the three most relevant documents into the body of the story. If you can’t see the links, you can access them here:

    Superior Court Decision: https://www.ossipeelake.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Freedom-NorthgateWWS_Notice-of-Decision-Order.pdf
    FEMA letter to Ossipee: https://www.ossipeelake.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/FEMA-Ossipee_July-2017.pdf
    WWS/Northgate letter to campers: https://www.ossipeelake.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WWS-Campers.pdf

  • March 24, 2018 at 1:22 pm
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    As always thank you so much for posting these documents. It is very clear that regardless of continuous claims made by some campers that they are grandfathered, any unit placed since 1991 with attachments and not road ready are in violation of federal law. As the town has stated to FEMA, as outlined in the FEMA order, no camper has the applicable variance or building permits on file at the town for these structures and additions. Any claims to the contrary are but a civil dispute between that customer and the campground but doesn’t change the fact that WWS needs to turn itself back in to a campground as described by law and clearly delineated in the documents you have so kindly provided. I think that giving the campers a full year to become legal shows extreme good will on the part of the owners and the town. Hopefully the Town of Freedom does not have to invoke the nonsuit with prejudice clause if campers don’t comply as ordered by the campground by October 20th. The documents are clear and speak for themselves. Whether one chooses to the accept reality of the situation or not is personal, but the choice to comply is definitely not optional.

  • March 24, 2018 at 1:29 pm
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    I know many people in there still camping, people who are in the middle of this mess.
    Yes not all stick build rooms need to come down but a big percent do! Also there are people who did get permits for the rooms and management said it still has to come down.
    As far as anchoring and jacking up building/campers, I would assume his means the Pavilion and Store, including the Main House will all have to comply.
    I got out of there last year and am glad I did before that letter in December with a WWS Christmas Card came out!
    Many units were sold last year with commissions going to the sales person and WWS when this news of complying was on the table and campers were told not to worry.
    Some were told they are grandfathered in.
    Much of this info from campers in the middle are not misleading or misinformed.
    There is a lawsuit by a group and many individual campers that is being discussed.
    Units were sold and new owners of the units were not told of this compliance and neither were the current campers.
    This is just a small piece of what is really happening there.
    The owners and management of this camperground have no ethics & morsels, taking advance of the people who just wants a family campground back.
    This is theft by deception!
    This is my opinion.

  • March 24, 2018 at 1:53 pm
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    “Following” is completely wrong again. I will stop beating this horse after this post, but the refusal by some to read, understand and accept the zoning and federal regulations in this case is astounding. The town is on record with FEMA that NO camp structures have permits on file. The buildings mentioned by “Following” in the campground and the nearby homes “Following” claims must comply in another post are not applicable. Most if not all were built prior to 1991, and pulled an appropriate building permit which is in file such as my home, which exempts us from this FEMA edict. The documents provided and the edicts agreed to in the court order are brief and clear. That some campers are willing to fight the obvious and lose even more money on their illegal additiond is the only tragedy left to play out in this over wrung drama! Me, I’m pouring myself a drink and going outside to watch the ice melt.

  • March 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm
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    “Deb” I think you have been mis informed. you are correct that most camps do not have a permit, you are also correct that the town was not enforcing the floodplain policy. It is unclear weather the town did not know about the floodplain regulations or did not care. the town did know about the camps and structures in the campground and never did or said anything about it until FEMA told them to.
    Just because a camp doesn’t have a permit, doesn’t mean they cannot get one. the “stick built structures” coming down is a campground decision, not FEMA or the Town. I know this is true because i have personally spoken to both multiple times I urge you to do the same before telling people they are wrong. FEMA and the town want units elevated and anchored. There is no court ordered deadline. read the court order again. the court order also doesn’t have anything to do with existing camps, only the expansion. it clearly states 246 proposed campground EXPANSION sites. It is also true the campground has been selling these sites saying they were grandfathered. Camp buyers could have done their homework and still got screwed, the campground lied and the town didn’t care until june 2017, but the town didn’t say anything to campers, just to the campground. the floodplain ordinance has been adopted by the town since 1991, and 17 years later the town has yet to enforce it. thats not fair to the campers in the campground who purchased or installed camps not knowing there was an issue due to the towns negligence. non enforcement can be considered compliance. they are scrambling now because the town will loose the federally backed flood insurance program, so if i were an ossipee resident in a floodway i would hope this gets settled quickly and easily and not with a lawsuit that could cause suspension from the flood insurance program

  • March 24, 2018 at 7:25 pm
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    I did not see a court decision on the posted documents (just two copies of the letter to campers). Deb, I think you are either unaware or completely callous to the situation of many of us at WWS. Again I am not in disagreement that the FEMA regs must be followed. The issue at hand for us campers is that Northgate-Ossipee LLC lied to new campers that they sold too. They were dishonest and deceitful when telling people their units were Grandfathered in. “We” are not the ones who claimed this – it was WWS in their marketing and selling strategies. The Town of Ossipee was also complicit in this mess as they have been collecting taxes on these stick build additions. WWS and the Town will need to account for this as it will probably end up in court as well. None of us campers at WWS want to see any harm to the lake and your continued nasty assertion that we are wrong and misleading says more about who you are than what our issues are at WWS. Enjoy that drink 😉

  • March 25, 2018 at 12:00 am
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    Link to the Superior Court decision has been corrected.

  • March 25, 2018 at 7:06 am
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    Thank you for the Superior Court decision update. Where in this court decision does its say anything about the pre-existing camps and a deadline for compliance. You stated “The documents provided and the edicts agreed to in the court order are brief and clear.” What are you talking about?

  • March 25, 2018 at 9:12 am
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    Thank You “Hey Camper”
    Yes I also hope Ossipee doesn’t loose there flood insurance/FEMA backing. FEMA had to be rewritten because of the WWS expansion. We all know and agree this area floods and it would be very bad for many if FEMA doesnt help in a disaster.
    And yes Stick Build additions have to come down per WWS, management doesn’t want them. This resort wants drive in and drive out campers. That is what they are used to, transient campers. This corporate company owns many Yogi Bear Campgrounds. Looks them up they have cleared land for campers, RV pull ins which is what the expansion area looks like. They just bought Mi-Te-Jo’s in Milton a year ago and now making the same changes there that WWS campers are dealing with. Reviews show angry campers at MI-Te-Jo’s which could cause then to tank as well. What happened to the Ma and Pa family campgrounds? WWS will have a mass exit this coming season, who will pay their town taxes? Seasonal campers are gaunteeed money, transients are not.
    Remember WWS & Mi-Te-Jo’s are now corporate and that makes it all about the $!
    Not sure if “Deb” is a camper, an employee of WWS or a Ossipee resident who has to deal with this as well being in a flood zone.
    But again thank you “Hey Camper” for for facts in all this!

  • March 25, 2018 at 11:02 am
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    I take offense to Deb saying no one got permits. That can’t be more wrong! A lot of people got permits. I’m not sure why the town is telling them that. I can show them one they issued. Deb owns a house across the lake. She post on WWS asking to turn down the music a lot. Thank you to you all for posting the truth!! This is upsetting enough and to read wrong degrading post about us campers make it worse.

  • March 25, 2018 at 1:59 pm
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    I totally agree “AP”..
    I do remember on the alliance or FB page about a complaint about music.
    I also appreciate all the facts that have been told here on this story.
    Many campers are heartbroken.
    Many lies were told by management and now people don’t have enough time to make decision on breaking down and moving out.
    Some are huge parkmodels and additions.
    But who wants to be lied to about a place you want to be your getaway.
    The past owners and the town should have been on this with the laws many years ago.
    As long as corporate owns WWS this will be the way.
    Good Luck to all campers dealing with this..
    There is a rainbow at the end of the tunnel, trust me!

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