Beaver Brook owners withdraw campground plans at their golf course site in Williamsburg

  • The Williamsburg Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on a special permit Tuesday that drew more than 60 people who weighed in on a proposed 50-site campground on the Beaver Brook Golf Course property. Owners Chris and Rosana Duval withdrew their plans after the hearing. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Beaver Brook Golf Course on Monday afternoon along Route 9 in Haydenville. A proposed campground at the site has been withdrawn by owners Chris and Rosana Duval. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/24/2022 8:25:33 PM
Modified: 8/24/2022 8:21:57 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Following concerns from multiple residents at a public hearing and calls for a more detailed plan from town officials, the owners of Beaver Brook Golf Course on Tuesday night withdrew their request for permission to open an up to 50-site campground on the property.

Chris Duval, who owns the 183 Main Road golf course with his wife, Rosana, said he will rethink the plans and may resubmit the request for a special permit to the Zoning Board of Appeals in the future.

Their decision to withdraw the request came after a public hearing that lasted more than an hour and drew more than 60 people, many of whom expressed concern about the project for a variety of reasons.

Prior to the public comment period, Chris Duval submitted a new map of where the camp sites would be, which significantly moved the tent area away from Solar Circle, which the tents had been near in the initial application. This raised concern with some residents prior to the meeting.

“The only residence this is going to affect is my own,” Duval said.

Duval, who made the request with his wife under the name Equinox Partners LLC, said he thought the property could fit 40-plus sites in Williamsburg, and that they might have to expand into the Northampton part of the property to hit 50.

“I may only put 30,” he said.

The campground project drew much opposition in the days leading up to Tuesday’s hearing, with nearly 300 people signing online and paper petitions created by Kyle Rodd and his wife, Alexandra Pinschmidt, who live on Solar Circle.

“Many community members wish to not have it here,” Pinschmidt said.

In his comments, Rodd expressed concerns about water usage, noise, light and air pollution, and increased human and wildlife interaction.

Another abutter to the project, Kathy Luce, expressed concern about campers wandering onto her property where she raises Newfoundland dogs.

“I don’t want these strangers coming into my yard,” she said. “I’m very negative on this.”

Others complained that the application was incomplete.

“There’s a lot that needs to be added to the application, I think,” said abutter John Durrant, who in his comments talked about both sewage and access road issues.

After the public comment period, the ZBA agreed that the application did not contain enough detail.

“We cannot fully consider, really, what it is you’re suggesting until we have a detailed site plan,” ZBA member Michelle Gallagher said.

In the end, Chris Duval chose to withdraw the application without prejudice. Asked what his plans are, Duval said that he doesn’t know if he will submit another application.

“This could end up costing way more than what we anticipate,” he said.

However, he did say that 15 to 20 slots for motor homes might be feasible.

“Gear it toward golfers,” he said. “Treat it more like an Airbnb.”

He also said that they might move forward with the storage facility they’ve already been granted a special permit for on the property instead.

Duval also asked the ZBA to “condemn this hate speech against me and my wife.” After the meeting, Duval showed a reporter a Facebook post that called for him to be executed.

While many expressed concern with the proposed campground, not all were opposed to it.

“I have no problem with what they’re trying to do,” said one abutter. “And I live across the street.”

Laura Porter, an abutter who expressed concern with the project, said after the meeting that she appreciated how the ZBA ran the meeting.

“They worked hard to keep it a respectful hearing and a smooth process,” she said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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