Cape Cod Campground Sale Concerns Community
Trees, grassland and empty hills make up the campground that has operated for more than 50 years next to historic Highland Light in North Truro, Mass. But will subdivisions and “trophy” homes crop up there in the future?
Horton’s Camping Resort is on the market, raising concern on the part of at least one abutter, the Cape Cod National Seashore, that it could be targeted for development, according to the Provincetown Banner. The 39-acre property lies within park boundaries, bordered on one side by Highland Light, the Highland House Museum and Highland Links — all owned by the seashore — and on the other by the seashore’s Highlands Center.
Seashore Superintendant George Price said the property is “something we’re interested in.” He said it was the park’s hope that someone who is interested in preserving the property as a campground will purchase it.
“As we are with all the campgrounds, we certainly hope they don’t become overly developed,” Price said.
The property is owned by year-round resident Robert Horton, whose father purchased it in 1935. The Horton family has operated it as a campground since the early 1950s. There are 200 tent sites, restrooms, a laundry, a convenience store and a playground on the 39.3-acre parcel. In a phone interview last week Horton said a number of his guests return year after year.
Horton did not want to comment on his reasons for selling the campground, saying only that “a number of different factors” led to his decision to put it on the market. It was put up for sale in late June for $3.5 million.
The property’s listing agent, Nick Brown of Thomas D. Brown Real Estate Associates in Truro, said the ideal scenario would be if another campground owner or someone who wanted to continue to run Horton’s as a camping area bought the property. “Quite honestly, that is what everybody would like to see,” Brown said.
On the other hand, he added, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you it can’t be subdivided.”
Because the property lies within the seashore it would be subject to three-acre zoning, in theory opening it up to 13 single-family home sites. But Brown said the number of homes that could actually be built there would probably be fewer than 13 once roads and other infrastructure went in.
The land cannot be developed commercially.
Brown said several parties have already expressed interested in buying the property to subdivide it, but after doing some footwork and researching the local regulations with the seashore and town, those potential buyers “disappeared.” Anyone wishing to subdivide faces a “long, long road ahead,” Brown said, noting that subdivision of the land will require a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review by the Cape Cod Commission.
The owners are currently negotiating with someone right now but “the jury is still out” on whether a deal will materialize, Brown said. The town of Truro has made inquiries, he acknowledged, but they were not serious inquiries.
The seashore, on the other hand, has made serious inquiries, Brown said. Price acknowledged on Friday that the park has approached the owner to see if he is “interested in getting an appraisal.”
Horton’s Campground is one of the last campgrounds on the Outer Cape, and Brown said it serves as an “incubator” for returning tourists. People become familiar with the Outer Cape through the campground and come back for future vacations or even to take up residence here.
The seashore is also aware of the value of campgrounds as an affordable way to spend time on the Cape for many families. Price has expressed concern in the past about the number of camping spots that have fallen by the wayside over the years. The park is currently in the midst of negotiations with the owners of the North of Highland Campground, near Head of the Meadow Beach in North Truro, over a deal that would preserve that campground for the future through a conservation restriction.