Massachusetts Campground Faces Closure

April 4, 2013 by   - () 4 Comments

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.



4 Responses to “Massachusetts Campground Faces Closure”

  1. Barbara Holton on April 8th, 2013 2:08 am

    It is a shame that power and politics could take the truth out of a simple situation. The fact is there are three campgrounds in Middleboro and the town chooses to treat this ond differently to prove a point. There is an equal protection lawsuit filed by the campground against the town and that is why they won’t give up. To say that they maybe shouldn’t have done this would put them in a situation so now they are attacking the campgrounds income in order to bankrupt the campground so they won’t have to answer to the lawsuit. There is not one thing this campground hasn’t done that the others haven’t. There has never been a heath issue filed with the state in thirty years. All this campground has ever done and wanted to do is run the same way as others

  2. Elaine Hovestadt on April 12th, 2013 1:15 pm

    My family and I and so many other families look forward to going to Tispaquin every year. Some people can not afford long and expensive vacations and camping has made this possible for us. We do all our shopping in Middleboro while we are there, as do many other people. Look at the revenue this campground has brought over the years to such a small town.
    Help the Holton’s figure out how to fix it and be reasonable about it. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

  3. Kathy T on April 18th, 2013 11:48 am

    This is so sad. This campground is maintained so nicely. The owners live there year round but it is open only part of the year. I am a camper for years and the amount of septic a camper uses is VERY minimal. Most use less water then when they are at home.

    The town by baring the entrance would also not allow for her to live in her HOME.. A home she has created with her family .

    I really hope they can hold off enough to let her do what is right. Also I hope people in boston and the EPA and other campers and show how little resources we do use while camping.

    This is a time honored family tradition that could be held back by something so trivial.

    This campground is a wonderful alternative to staying on the cape but going to the cape or boston for the day being so close to a train station

    It would be SAD to see a town like Middleboro lost such a wonderful resource and commerce

  4. Bob Laracy on April 28th, 2013 10:35 am

    I’d just like to say as a single parent to a 7 year old boy that this campground has been the one thing my son looks forward to the most every summer. He asks me when there’s still snow on the ground how much longer before we can go to the campground. This is a very nice, well kept FAMILY camping area that has old fashion values. There is a long history there that could never be replaced with another campground. Hopefully the town will put some effort into working this out fairly with the Holtons. Not just for all the families that look forward to spending there summers making memories with family and friends, but for all the local businesses that we shop at as well. Good luck Ralph & Barbara 🙂