Unhappy campers? Proposed campground sparks concerns 

  • Jeff Rinehart presents the potential plan for a proposed campground to be built on The Moody Center grounds during the Northfield Planning Board meeting Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • Richard Fitzgerald, Planning Board chairman, speaks at a public hearing regarding a proposed campground to be built on the grounds of The Moody Center in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • The auditorium of Northfield Town Hall quickly filled with concerned residents as the Planning Board prepared for a public hearing to consider an application for the operation and construction of a campground on The Moody Center’s property Thursday evening. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2019 9:35:59 PM

NORTHFIELD — A proposal to build a for-profit campground on The Moody Center’s property has spurred controversy in town, as evidenced by a recent Planning Board meeting.

Northfield Town Hall’s auditorium quickly filled with concerned residents as the Planning Board prepared for a public hearing Thursday to consider an application for the operation and construction of the campground on The Moody Center’s grounds.

After more than an hour and a half of discussion, the board decided to continue the public hearing at a later date, yet to be determined.

The proposed campground would be owned by The Moody Center and would be located on the northern end of its property, along Pierson Road. While it would not be operated by The Moody Center, it would work closely with it.

The Moody Center is an organization that is committed to preserving the legacy of Dwight L. Moody, an evangelistic preacher who lived from 1837 to 1899.

Jeff Rinehart, who presented the campground’s plans on behalf of The Moody Center, assured residents in attendance the plan did not call for cutting down trees and would be built “according to what the land will allow.”

“We’re not looking to go in and cut down forests,” Rinehart said. “We want to create a camp where New Englanders can come and enjoy nature.”

The plan, as presented, would include a main building where guests would check in and out, over 20 platform canvas tents to be used seasonally, and multiple A-frame cabins that could potentially be used as year-round accommodations.

Each cabin unit would have flushing toilets and shower facilities. The tents would have community shower facilities attached to the main building. There would be no RVs or trailers allowed, according to Rineheart.

“The pavilion would have an outdoor seating area, a walking path and gardens on the Pierson Road side of the pavilion,” Rinehart added.

With many members of the crowd voicing their concerns, the meeting quickly turned into a question-and-answer session between Rinehart and residents, many of whom said they live along Pierson Road.

One concerned resident asked about the camp’s plan for a septic system. Rinehart said the center is currently working with a local septic engineer, but it has yet to be determined where a system would be placed.

Another resident inquired about what the campground would pay for water use. Richard Fitzgerald, Planning Board chairman, assured the crowd that the camp would pay the appropriate bills for its water usage.

“Local, state, federal taxes will be paid the same as any other campground in the area,” Rinehart added after further inquiry.

Other concerns arose surrounding lighting, noise and traffic. With Pierson Road being the only way to access the entrance to the potential campground, residents worried about safety hazards from traffic buildup. When the board asked if a lighting plan was in place, Rinehart said the center does not have one yet.

“There will absolutely be quiet hours,” Rinehart noted. “Parking is the kind of thing that can be built into the permit, along with hours of operation.”

Many members of the crowd said they were worried the construction of a campground nearby could impact their property values. While this is a clear point of concern for residents, Fitzgerald said the impact was not something the Planning Board could assess at this time.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.


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