Massachusetts Campground Faces Closure
Officials in Middleboro, Mass., were reluctantly preparing to bar the entrance to the Tispaquin Family Campground this week after a deadline passed for campground owners Barbara and Ralph Holton to comply with a court order and reduce the number of campsites on the property by nearly half, The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass, reported.
Last week, Judge Robert Cosgrove, associate justice of the Plymouth County Superior Court, ordered the campground closed as of April 1 unless the court received "notification by the defendants that they are in full compliance with the court's order" to remove excess camping units and vehicles from the campground by last Friday (March 29).
The town is "directed, to the extent practical, to chain, seal or otherwise obstruct vehicular access to the campgrounds, and to post notice that the campgrounds are closed by order of the court."
Town Manager Charles Cristello said plans were being made to place a chain across the entrance this week.
"The court has given us a directive to cut off access, so we're doing that," Cristello said. "This doesn't have to happen. All she has to do is come into compliance with the court order "¦Her attorney wrote and said she's going to do it by the 15th, but that's not what the court said."
Cristello said Town Counsel Daniel Murray and Building Commissioner Robert Whalen were at the campground on Tuesday to count camping units. The Holtons' campground permit, which was issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals about 30 years ago, limits them to 57 sites plus a "safari field" for special events, as does the Superior Court ruling that resolved several court cases beginning in 2011. Mrs. Holton at one point contended a campsite could hold more than one camping unit, and she has since rented as many as 113 sites, according to the town.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Mrs. Holton vacillated between saying she will allow the campground to remain closed to vowing to continuing fighting the town in court.
"I can't go back to 57 units," she said at one point, asserting that in fact she would have fewer sites to rent because Murray and Whalen were counting motorhomes that belong to her, and motorhomes that are not on actual sites but in storage.
"I can't do business like that," she said. "For the amount of overheard and bills I have to pay here, the attorney's fees I'm paying, it's not worth it."
Mrs. Holton said she is hopeful about legislation being considered in Boston that would reduce the required sewer system capacity for campgrounds to a point where she believes she might be able to show that she has adequate capacity — the main sticking point in the dispute she has had with the town.
She said she is also trying to convince state Department of Environmental Protection officials that they should "explain to the town the way things have been done with other campgrounds in the state to help them keep operating."
Despite the fact that Judge Cosgrove's 14-page opinion indicated his order was not subject to further appeal — Mrs. Holton has filed appeals of previous orders — Mrs. Holton said her attorney is "trying to get some relief through the courts."
Meanwhile, the campground normally opens April 15. Mrs. Holton said she "can put it off a month," but that she may not try to open this season and might even try to sell the property.