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Campground approved, subject to conditions

  • After a two-month public hearing process and lengthy deliberation, the Northfield Planning Board unanimously approved the debated Idyllwood Campground, to be built along Pierson Road, during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2019 11:38:23 PM

NORTHFIELD – The Planning Board approved the much debated “Idyllwood” campground, subject to more than a dozen conditions.

Roughly a dozen residents turned out to the Planning Board’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday night to hear its deliberation and decision. Residents have voiced concerns with the proposed campground throughout the public hearing, which closed Sept. 26 after more than two months of ongoing discussion.

“We have had two public hearings and all the questions that were raised have been answered appropriately,” Planning Board Chair Stephen Seredynski said.

The campground will be constructed on Moody Center property, along Pierson Road in Northfield. While located on its grounds, the campground would not be operated directly by The Moody Center. According to the plan presented at the public hearing, it would consist of 12 cabins and 27 large furnished tents.

During Monday’s meeting, the board read through the campground’s proposal to ensure it fit the criteria for Northfield’s zoning bylaws and the board’s conditions. They also read a letter from Michelle Wood, a Northfield resident who wrote on behalf on her parents, abutters of the Moody property at 73 Pierson Road. Seredynski said raised points and concerns from the letter related to the board’s own conditions.

A required septic field would be constructed in the field uphill toward Pierson Road, from where the camp’s main building would be located. Planning Board member Homer Stavely said the camp’s fabric tents and cabins would also be constructed behind the main building, downhill and minimally visible from Pierson Road.

“Something to take into consideration is a limit on construction hours,” said Planning Board member Tammy Pelletier.

According to Northfield’s legal counsel, K.P. Law, the proposed “Idyllwood” camp meets the legal definitions of a campground in the town’s zoning bylaws. The constructed a-frame cabins would not be considered dwellings, as questioned during the public hearing, because the definition of a dwelling does not apply to structures designed for “transient or overnight occupancy.”

Another contested aspect of the camp’s plan related to traffic and parking. According to estimates by the developer Clockwork Architecture, there would be a limit of approximately 39 cars, roughly one per campground space. Stavely pointed out that it would be hard to predict this fully, and any additional parking would be located further downhill from Pierson Road, below the fabric tents.

The Planning Board said a basic camp store would operate to sell items like locally sourced firewood, toiletry essentials and small snacks. The board noted that alcohol would not be sold on the campground premises.

“The plan meets all requirements of zoning bylaws and bylaws regarding development of the Northfield Campus,” Seredynski said.

According the board, the campground plan meets Northfield Zoning Bylaws section 8.1.1. – Principles of Rural Design and section 9.4. – Campus Planned Development Master Plan Special Permit, among other required regulations. Based on required criteria, the board determined the campground would not be detrimental to the neighborhood and would not significantly alter the character of the zoning district.

“The idea is to set conditions that will address neighbors’ concerns,” Seredynski said.

Once the Planning Board’s decision is filed, there is a 20-day period for appeals to be submitted. The campground approval is likely to be met with an appeal, after residents have contested the proposal throughout the public hearing process. During one of the public hearings, the board was presented with a petition opposing the project, signed by 43 abutters.

The Planning Board’s conditions for the Idyllwood Campground approval are as follows:

■Check-in time for guests will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and check-out time is 11 a.m.

■Quiet hours will be held from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. No loud speakers for public announcements, no amplifiers for music allowed.

■There will be onsite security 24/7 when the campground is occupied.

■There will be no firearms, fireworks, slingshots, BB guns, or paintball guns allowed.

■No hunting allowed.

■Occupancy is limited to transient and overnight camping.

■Pets must be leashed at all times and pets are not to be left unattended at campsites or in vehicles. Pet waste must be picked up and properly disposed.

■Lighting will be installed according to International Dark Sky Association standards.

■Out-of-state firewood is prohibited.

■Personal electrical generators are prohibited.

■No ATVs, three wheelers, four-wheelers or go-carts are allowed.

■Construction on the proposed site can only be done Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

■Lastly, the campground shall continue adherence of the principles of rural design Sec. 8.1.1 of the town’s zoning bylaws.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.

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