Mason Zoning Board (New Hampshire) unanimously turned down a proposed glamping development behind Marty’s Driving Range.
The decision was handed down at an off-schedule meeting held solely for the proposal’s deliberation, underscoring the gravity of the situation.
Nicole Ruggiero, the owner of Marty’s Driving Range, submitted the proposal intending to add a unique offering to her business portfolio.
Ruggiero envisioned creating a luxury camping experience, replete with raised wooden platforms and walled tents furnished for a higher-end camping experience. The application suggested a maximum of ten sites located behind the driving range.
While Ruggiero intended for the proposed glamping site to be an independent entity, capable of attracting customers on its own merit.
Despite the plan’s potential for business expansion and tourism growth, the Mason Zoning Board had serious reservations.
Chairperson Bob Young opened the meeting by summarizing several concerns that had been raised by neighbors, residents, and emergency personnel during the public hearing portion of the application process.
Concerns ranged from noise and lighting control, particularly during nighttime hours, to issues of sanitation disposal and potable water.
More practical worries, such as access for emergency personnel, the town’s capacity to respond, and the arrangement for the ingress and egress of campers, were also voiced.
However, these concerns were never thoroughly addressed. The board first determined that temporary camping sites simply didn’t fit the parameters of what was allowed in the district by special exception.
The General Residence, Agriculture, and Forestry District permits multiple uses by special exception. These include inns, tourist homes, lodging houses, retail stores, service establishments, light manufacturing, automotive repair and service stations, recycling centers, offices, public utilities, and seasonal outdoor entertainment. Yet, conspicuously absent from the list was a provision for campgrounds.
Board members noted this discrepancy, with Chair Young stating that the board needed to ascertain whether a “specific link to one of the allowed uses” existed.
They concluded that no such link could be found, despite board member Nate Choquette highlighting a potential gray area related to tourist homes or lodging houses. The board unanimously agreed that the application did not fit within the town’s planning ordinance and rejected the proposal.
This decision underscores the need for private campground owners and operators in New Hampshire to closely consider the local zoning ordinances when planning developments.
As this case demonstrates, while glamping is a growing industry, local regulations may not have adapted to this new form of luxury accommodation.
The decision also sends a strong signal to other glamping operators in the area, underscoring the importance of due diligence in site selection and business planning.