N.H. Park Expansion Plan Halted
Plans to expand the Tuxbury Pond Campground in South Hampton, N.H., have temporarily halted as town officials alert Amesbury, Mass., and Newton, N.H., to the scope of the project.
The campground, with 274 campsites, unveiled a plan with 211 new sites at the South Hampton Planning Board meeting on Monday (March 2). The campground sits on 78 acres along the edge of Tuxbury Pond, which lies on Amesbury's northwest border, according to The Daily News of Newburyport, Newburyport, Mass.
On a busy July weekend, the population of the campground outnumbers the entire population of the town, which is fewer than 900 residents. Motorboats and canoes line the shore, used by campers to traverse the secluded Powow watershed.
The Planning Board briefly reviewed the plans. But when public comment was opened, attorney Stephan Nix of Gilford, N.H., representing Ruth Early, a South Hampton resident who owns land adjacent to the campground, cited a New Hampshire state law that requires nearby towns be given notice of projects with regional impact. No notice had been given.
"The land abuts Amesbury directly and Newton from across the water," Nix said.
After open discussion, the board halted the meeting and agreed to inform Amesbury and Newton of the application plans. A future meeting date was set for April 6.
Every summer, Amesbury and South Hampton are affected by the campground, as traffic and public safety risks increase with the swift population influx due to the campground's 274 sites. Campers also have direct use of the pond, which is a primary water source for the town of Amesbury.
Robert Desmarais, director of the Department of Public Works, said he was informed of the campground's plans to expand early last week. If the plans pass, which he believes include a septic system update, Desmarais said the expansion could benefit the town.
"I don't have a lot of details at this point on the plans, but most of the plans are improvements to sites and upgrading the septic system and drainage; so the net result we are hoping is an overall improvement on the effects on water supply," he said.
Desmarais did acknowledge that any activity in the watershed has an impact on the water quality but said for now the campground's impact is minimal.
Ronald Preston, a South Hampton selectman and planning board member, said he believes there are still issues with the campground, but every business in town deserves a fair hearing. Sewage and noise level fall on his list of concerns.
"I think any business in town does deserve a fair hearing, and they do add to the economy in our town, but we are talking about a population that is rather significant and larger than our town," he said.
The campground is affiliated with Thousand Trails, an Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS) holding.