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Canterbury couple proposes 265-acre campground; neighbors worried about Rocky Pond

Canterbury could soon be home to a 265-acre campground – if the landowners can get past a group of critical abutters and secure the necessary town approvals.

Linda and Ed Schmid want to build the Mourning Dove Camping & RV Resort on a parcel near the intersection of Route 106, also called Rocky Pond Road, and Harmony Lane. Aimed at seasonal campers from May to October, it would be built in phases and eventually have roughly 300 sites, mostly for RVs. The plan went before the Canterbury zoning board earlier this month and that hearing will continue in January. If approved, it will move to the town’s planning board.

Tim Bernier, a land use consultant and licensed surveyor working on behalf of the Schmids, said the campground would be in the town’s best interest because it would add to the tax rolls and draw in more customers for local businesses. The Schmids echoed that sentiment in a phone interview, saying the site is ideal for a high-quality campground.

“We thought it would be a good fit,” Linda Schmid said. “We tried to match what our needs were and what we thought would be productive and helpful to the town.”

But about a dozen people who live nearby, some from Loudon and Gilmanton, told the zoning board they aren’t keen on a large campground imposing on their neighborhood.

The Schmids, who are now retired, formed Mourning Dove in 2012. They’ve hired a consultant with campground experience to help with their project and are envisioning a campground that is family oriented with on-site recreation, including 4 miles of hiking trails, a pavilion for activities, swimming pools and a water park for campers.

But according to draft meeting minutes, the abutters and other neighbors are concerned about if and how the campers will use Rocky Pond, beside which many of their homes sit. Others were concerned about traffic in and out of the campground and noise. The proposal says there will be a main entrance to the campground on Route 106 and an emergency entrance off Harmony Lane.

Aaron Roy, a Loudon resident and member of the Rocky Pond Association, was concerned about contamination of the pond and asked who would have access to it. He also asked what effect the campground would have on property values and what type of events would happen in the activities pavilion, according to the draft minutes.

Bernier said the campground owners do not intend to allow mass access to Rocky Pond. Instead, they will be seeking to allow roughly 30 canoes and kayaks on the pond, which will be closely monitored by campground staff. He did not have a chance to explain this to residents at the last zoning meeting because it wasn’t really the meeting’s purpose, he said. Recreational use, including use of the pond, will be a focus of the next zoning meeting alongside a discussion of possibly building a convenience store.

“I really feel badly that everybody left with the sense that somehow we were going to wreak havoc on a little pond, that’s absolutely not the intention,” Bernier said.

At the start of the meeting, consultant Jane Cohen said she did studies on similar campgrounds and found there would be no harm to property values. She and Bernier also said the design of the campground was modeled after some of the area’s most successful campgrounds.

If approved, the owners would like to start building the campground in 2014. At this time, there aren’t any estimates on how many campsites would be built in the first phase, but Ed Schmid said bringing it up to full capacity could take five to 10 years.

The second zoning board hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

Update: The initial version of this story incorrectly referred to Tim Bernier as a lawyer.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Congrats on your retirement however, this is NH not Nevada and it seems like you are gambling! Maybe you and your consultant should walk "The Lane" (as we call it on Rocky) and get a sense of what's at stake for you: legally and financially, as well as the residents: environmentally, financially, in addition to the integrity of our beloved pond. You are negligent or misinformed to think that Harmony can support the retreat of RVs in the event of an emergency! Walk the lane and visit this pond as we have for generations and you would notice the names of our families entrenched throughout, in thought, word and deed...not just in greedy selfish dollar. Pee in your own pool, but my children won't build memories in a pond spoiled by your pollution and greed. Don't tread on Rocky!

I'm an insurance adjuster and I go to these types of "campgrounds" every summer. I use campgrounds loosely because most of these sites are used to drop off a RV, that is unregistered and unmonitored, and let them sit until a tree falls on them. A majority of the trailers are not maintained, water begins to leak in them and eventually they start rotting. This attracts all types of insects and rodents. I've come across dozens of others RVs that cannot handle access roads, emergency exits, and driving in inclement weather, as these are not all-terrain vehicles. When incidents happen with these RVs, damage is caused to surrounding buildings, trees, and the RVs themselves. Then a crew of tow trucks have to come and rescue the RVs, which causes more annoyances for neighbors. Campgrounds of this type cause all kinds of messes and are not anything I'd wish for anyone to live near, let alone share a lake with. Good luck Rock Pond!

This proposed Mega Campground Subdivision is more than 3 times the size of Rocky Pond! None of the current homeowners, who are also taxpayers, want this transient form of business as their new neighbor. In addition to excavation noise pollution, i.e., earth movers, back-up alarms, diesal smoke, and dump trucks pounding for the next 5 to 10 years, the neighbors will then have to deal with the ecological ruin of the environment, pond, and wildlife. Also, state and town taxpayers will likely have to pay more for the increased police and fire protection for this development. "Love thy Neighbor", Ed and Linda Schmid... this neighbor does not want your retirement project to be our bane.

This campground will do irreparable harm to Rocky Pond, which is a 1/2 mile long pond with enough room to support the recreational use by the 30-40 residents that currently live on the lake. There is no way this pond can support another 30 kayaks or canoes and for anyone to suggest this clearly indicates they do not know what they are talking about.

I have a camp very close to where this campground is to go and I have real concerns about security of my property and how the campground will negatively impact the pond. I have had a number of costly break-ins over the past years and feel this campground would make this more of a problem for us on the pond. I don't think the pond can stand the impact of up to 1200 instant additional residents. This is not the correct place for a campground such as is proposed. With noise issues and campfire smoke over the pond, my property will be negatively impacted and harder to sell when I am ready to. I am not pleased!

I can sympathize with your plight on the break ins. It is happening all over due to the desperate economy. I think that the bigger question begs, where are the police to protect your property. In all NH towns, police department have been tripled and quadrupled over the past few years and crime is a higher rate in most communities. More break ins, more vandalism. I do however have respect for the rights of the owners of the property. Perhaps some reduced footprint plan can be agreed upon.

Linda and Ed Schmid need to find a good land use lawyer. Planning and zoning boards are notorious for making things up as they go along, without regard for the RSAs and with the crappy minutes many of them keep, it's hard to prove anything after the fact. The NIMBYists will be out with bells on, so come prepared.

The locals not to worry about it becoming an all-season campground, to have to "put up" with "them" year-long, as I think there are deed restrictions to this for: seasonal use only, as that's what I found when I went hiking there of checking out a couple of parcels back in the late 1990s, of I did find one 7-acre lot for only $500 an acre x 7 = $3500 one Fall and was told by REMAX when on the Heights of before they moved down to "The Bear Right" "former BURGER KING of now the restaurant moved next door was to come back in the Spring that I did one Friday and further told of to return on Monday but then somebody bought it in the meantime, of what? they've been buying up these #__ parcels for #__ years like what Disney did in Florida?

good for them

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