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Our Zoning Journey

Since before we bought the property in 2021, we've been trying to get clear answers on what is and isn't allowed. We did the research ourselves, went through hundreds of pages of zoning ordinances, and when no one responded to our questions and there was nothing in the zoning ordinances that said we couldn't have primitive (no electric, water or sewer) tent camping on our property, we started the project. Now we're being told that the zoning ordinances listed on the town website when we started the project are no longer valid and were not even valid when we started. The town is now trying to delay the project further with manufactured concerns about road frontage which I addressed with the zoning official in 2021, while they try to pass more stringent rules and permits for campgrounds.


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Before we bought the land

We asked about zoning regulations and if there were any  regulations that would stop us from running a business. We received no response.


Do we have the frontage?

We asked again if we could run a business. At this point, after receiving no answers, I read through all of the zoning ordinances and it seemed the only question was road frontage. Our road was used by the town as a detour years ago when a bridge was out of order, which tells me it is a town road, which would mean we have half mile of frontage. No answer on that, despite the clear question and detailed drawing.

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Wrong address

We realized there was a typo in the mailing address the town had on file which is why we weren't getting any notices. This is one of three attempts, both written and in person, to rectify this. To this day, they still have the wrong address on file


Written approval for dome tent

I received a letter asking for a zoning permit for our dome. This is the conversation that ensued, where we agreed that a dome tent sitting on the ground is not something that needs a permit.

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Asking about camping

I asked about what we need to do to offer camping. This email went to the chair of the zoning board. No response.


Asking again

I also emailed the zoning enforcement officer asking what we needed to do to open a seasonal campground. Once again, no response whatsoever.

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Asking again about camping

I filled the zoning board chair in on what our plans were and asked if there was anything else we needed to do. No response.


New Zoning officer!

After years of no responses with the previous zoning people, both in email and in person, I thought I'd try again in person. I was surprised to find we had a new zoning officer who seemed much more strict but equally unhelpful. In person when I asked if we could offer primitive tent camping, she said "Well, it depends. also, we wroking on changing he rules around campgrounds." I asked what it depended on, and she said things like road frontage. When I asked for more information on that, she said "let's set up a walk through of the property" and I was so hopeful that someone would finally give me some answers! this is the follow up email.

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Simplifying the project

After initially wanting to build wooden platforms for the tents, we decided to simplify things to expedite the process.. hopefully.


Camping special permits

Afterbeing informed that the rules may be changing, I asked for a copy of the draft proposal for special permits for campgrounds. No response from the zoning officer. A month later I read through a facebook post that she had been emailing these documents out to everyone who asked! Except me, apparently.

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A new road block!

Victoria, being the diligent zoning officer that she is, went out of her way and spent the taxpayer's money to hire an engineer to say that our road is not actually a road. I've never seen someone work so hard to stop a nonprofit animal rescue from supporting their animals. Now we have to spend thousands of dollars on site engineer and lawyer to fight this claim.


Road frontage concerns

During a bridge reconstruction on Sumola road, ftaffic was legally directed down the entirety of Old Cranston Road, along a half mile border of our property, straight through to Sumola road by the town. The road was never discontinued formally through town meetings, which means it's still considered a road, but now we need to pay a lawyer to say that to the town.

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A town hearing was held to get feedback from the public on the "special permits" that zoning wants to add. Many people showed up and spoke out against special permits for a variety of very valid reasons. Not a single citizen spoke in favor of special permits. The entire audience cheered each speaker who said loud and clear: "NO. this is not what the people want."


 In the zoning meeting immediately following the hearing, the acting chair of the zoning board tried three times to pass them anyway, without any regard to the feedback of the town. SHe was very insisted and it is clear that she does not represent the interests of the town at all. Fortunately, the rest of the zoning board had some common sense to understand the outrage that would ensue if all of our voices were ignored right in front of our eyes. According to a large town poll, only 5% of residents support special permits, with the other 95% being extremely opposed.

I fear that fewer townspeople will show up to the next meeting and they'll just pass them anyway in spite of all of the opposition.

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