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.