Public hearing closed, no decision yet on Northfield campground

  • Moody Center President Emmitt Mitchell speaks during the public hearing regarding the proposed Idyllwood campground on Thursday at Northfield Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

  • Christian Arnold, founder of Clockwork Architecture — the developer for the proposed Idyllwood campground — outlines the various aspects of the project during a public hearing on Thursday at Northfield Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

  • Dozens of Northfield residents fill the auditorium of Town Hall on Thursday to hear the updated plan on the proposed Idyllwood campground and voice their concerns with the development. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCa

  • Northfield Planning Board Chair Steve Seredynski opens the Thursday public hearing at Town Hall on the proposed Idyllwood campground. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2019 1:10:12 AM

NORTHFIELD — The Planning Board closed the public hearing on the proposed “Idyllwood” campground Thursday night, and intends to discuss the topic as a board on Oct. 7.

However, there’s no indication that a vote on whether to approve the campground’s construction will be made during that meeting.

If approved, the campground will be constructed on Moody Center property, along Pierson Road in Northfield. According to the plan presented at the public hearing, it would consist of 12 cabins and 27 large furnished tents. The campground would not allow RVs, and would limit the number of cars allowed on site.

“We’re talking about an upscale campground,” said Moody Center President Emmitt Mitchell, who spoke during the public hearing at Town Hall. He said the Moody Center hopes the Idyllwood campground will make Northfield a destination.

Christian Arnold, founder of the Clockwork Architecture company that will develop the campground, also attended.

“We want to build a space for people to come and be rejuvenated by nature,” he said.

Arnold outlined aspects of the site plan, which had been updated since its initial submission. All structures would be developed at least 250 feet from the brook bordering the site. A garden would be set between Pierson Road and the main building, where guests would check in and out.

Check-in time would be from 4 to 7 p.m. and check-out time would be 11 a.m. Quiet hours would be enforced from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., Arnold said. Idyllwood rates would be approximately $125 a night. Each cabin and “luxury safari tent” would be fully equipped with modern furnishings, plush linens and a coffee maker.

“Idyllwood is nestled in its wooded setting, but it has all the modern amenities that you would expect at a resort or hotel,” Arnold said.

Following a previous site plan presentation, residents questioned whether alcohol or food would be sold on the premises. Mitchell and Arnold both said that alcohol would not be sold, and while some snacks may be sold, there would be no food cooked and sold by the campground. Local, seasoned firewood would also be provided on-site.

The campground would be taxable, providing tax revenue to Northfield. If approved, the site would likely tie into the public water system through an East Northfield Water Company water supply line. With the ongoing financial struggle facing the East Northfield Water Company, adding the campground as an customer could help elevate some of the burden from the pending approximate 150 percent water rate increase.

Matthew Lucier, a Northfield resident and licensed Massachusetts home inspector, said he was happy to hear the campground would connect to the company’s water line.

“It would be more sustainable for everyone,” Lucier said.

Other residents expressed concerns with the project, questioning the full extent of its impact on the neighborhood and environment. While some attendees said the campground would impact wildlife in the area, others said it would add a burden to local public safety entities.

Planning Board Chair Steve Seredynski said he checked with local law enforcement officials, who were not concerned by an impact from the campground. Additionally, he said Idyllwood would pay the appropriate taxes to cover the cost of public safety needs. Mitchell also said 24-hour security personnel would be employed.

Now that the public hearing has closed, the Planning Board has 90 days to approve or deny the campground application. The Planning Board intends to meet next on Oct. 7, though a time has not yet been posted.

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


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