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News for January 17, 2022

Too Much for a Small Town: Hinsdale Officials Reject RV Park Proposal

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The massive plan to transform a family-owned summer camp into a national RV park was too big for a small town.

According to a report, the Hinsdale Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously on Tuesday night to disqualify the special permit application submitted by Northgate Resort Ventures LLC.

The decision has finally ended after six months of public discussion about the potential impact of the proposal to the Longview Avenue neighborhood surrounding Camp Emerson (Massachusetts) and the town in general.

Northgate is entitled to challenge the ruling. In early December, ZBA members sought and obtained proof to show that the town of Hinsdale is prepared to defend them legally if they get involved in a lawsuit arising from a rejected application.

“To me, it’s a massive, massive development. It would be the biggest development in Hinsdale,” said Jeffrey Viner, the ZBA chairman.

The decision comes as a blow in families like the Lein family, who agreed to sell the camp it was operating for half a century contingent on Northgate receiving the approval of its permit for the development of 317 RV campsites on the 155-acre site.

Northgate operates nearly two dozen RV camping facilities throughout the country, including several designated Yogi Bear campgrounds.

Sue Lein was one of more than 60 people who watched the proceedings on Tuesday via the Zoom broadcast. Another 20 or so viewed the proceedings from the auditorium at the Nessacus Regional Middle School located in Dalton.

Before 8 p.m., after an additional 90 minutes of evidence gathering, Viner moved to reject the application after examining the relevant bylaws of the town, in which one of them says that the application for a special permit must be in line with the town’s values.

“My opinion on it is that it’s not in harmony,” he said. “It doesn’t keep the small-town character. It doesn’t lessen the congestion.”

Member Bruce Alexander seconded the motion and joined Viner and another member in voting to reject the application. Member Dan Thornton listened but did not participate in the vote because he had expressed his displeasure with the proposal before it was submitted with the ZBA.

“I don’t understand how you can put a development this big in that area and not have it completely change the character of the neighborhood,” Viner added.

“I can’t get over the amount of vehicles per day making the trips and just how that alone isn’t going to change the character,” Viner said. “I can’t get over the fact that it’s not detrimental.”

“Because of these reasons, I’m going to make a motion that we that we vote to deny Northgate’s proposal,” Viner declared.

The board is given 90 days to write its decision and then file it with the town clerk. After which, Northgate will be granted an appeal period.

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