To The Daily Sun,
This letter is in response to the article " 'Blindsided' on campground," which appeared in the March 28 edition of the paper.
My husband and I are direct abutters to right of the property Jill Miller is planning to purchase and develop into a campground, and we oppose this plan.
It was just a year ago that we closed on our property on Parade Road, sold our business and home in Rhode Island and moved to New Hampshire to enjoy our retirement in an area we love and have spent time in. After much searching this home met most of our needs — a little bit of land, far enough out of town for quiet and privacy but still relatively close to activities, stores, and medical care. We were made aware that the 95-acre parcel next door was for sale and could possibly end up with a relatively small housing development of approximately 17 homes on five-acre lots which would retain its residential zoning and still preserve the landscape and scenic nature of Parade Road as well as the wetlands area behind our property. We could live with that.
We were very surprised to learn that the property was under contract and four applications were submitted for variances and exceptions to the current residential zoning to enable Ms. Miller to develop the campground. Regardless of the vision Ms. Miller has for this property, once the horse is out of the barn, it's too late. If this property is approved for rezoning and Ms. Miller decides in a couple of years to sell it, there is the probability that a far more commercial operation would move in. She will have moved on, and we will be left with devalued property, an eyesore and perhaps a much more commercial operation such as a KOA, a Jellystone Park, or in a worst-case scenario, a Bentley's of Maine type of establishment.
Rezoning of this property for commercial use goes against the city's own Master Plan which identifies this stretch of highway as a scenic gateway connecting Meredith and Laconia that should be maintained as such. One only has to travel Route 3 from Meredith into Laconia to see long vacant commercial lodging properties that do not contribute to the scenic value leading into The Weirs.
It has been previously mentioned about the numerous accidents along Parade Road. Ms. Miller states that she will have a traffic study done to ensure the safety of those entering and exiting the campground. A study will not ensure safety. It will only highlight the probability of increased incidences of accidents which will now include RVs and campers in those numbers. There are very limited options to address safety issues.
We are also campers and have a 30-foot camper. Ms. Miller is proposing a family campground with approximately 100 RV sites and an unknown number of tent sites, a camp/neighborhood store and eating/drinking establishment. To have a commercially viable campground, it can be assumed that at some point a bathhouse or two would be needed, a pavilion, a dump station and possibly the addition of a pool. We have concerns for the additional water demand and stress on neighboring wells as well as the management of liquid and solid waste.
Is not the enjoyment of camping to be able to go to new places, enjoy campfires, hiking, meeting new people? These are all outdoor activities which generate noise. A few hundred people every day of the summer does not make for a quiet property, especially after the sun goes down.
Ms. Miller states the proposed campground would be less intrusive to neighbors than 17 homes with an average of five people per home. We vehemently disagree. Eighty-five people who are more or less the same 85 people year-round and have the occasional get-together or outdoor activity would be far less intrusive than 200-plus ever-changing people living outdoors for the majority of the summer.
In the quest for enjoying what the campground and its property has to offer, naturally campers would be exploring the property which would likely include abutting properties. New Hampshire, like several New England states, follows common law dating back to colonial days with granting the public the right of access to land that's not posted. It will not be up to Ms. Miller to monitor her campers and "strictly enforce rules against trespassing" unless the adjacent property owners post their land, which many will be doing to protect their property from unknown and unwanted guests who may unwittingly cross the property lines.
There are wetlands included in the subject property and adjacent to this property. Every campground we have been to has had a fire pit with the camp site. If only half of the proposed 100 RV sites had a camp fire each night, this would impact the air quality in the area. There would also be the increased risk of a rogue ember igniting surrounding trees or ground cover putting our houses in danger.
Ms. Miller should not take this almost unanimous opposition personally. There is no reason to pick up the phone and call her to talk about her plans and our concerns. It wouldn't change anything. She didn't make an attempt to reach out to those she would be impacting to get their input before she entered into a contract.
Whether the buyer is Ms. Miller or someone else, there would be the same objection from the residents for any requested rezoning of this property from anything other than residential. Her plans and dreams for a new beginning for a "family campground" and rough timber-style outbuildings sound like a wonderful start. However, 3160 Parade Road is not the location.