FIMFO and the environment

Posted 8/9/22

HIGHLAND, NY — The Camp FIMFO project in the Town of Highland could have a major impact on the town. Northgate Resorts, in partnership with Sun Communities, plans to spend around $44.9 million …

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FIMFO and the environment


HIGHLAND, NY — The Camp FIMFO project in the Town of Highland could have a major impact on the town. Northgate Resorts, in partnership with Sun Communities, plans to spend around $44.9 million renovating the former Kittatinny Campground into an all-inclusive family resort, and the project’s scale befits its costs, with a mountain coaster, pool and water play area and RV park; the final figure dependent on planning board approvals, according to Alex Betke, a lawyer with Brown & Weinraub speaking on behalf of the project.

Documents recently received by the River Reporter help shed light on the project’s potential impacts. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network shared with the River Reporter the results of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request it made of the Town of Highland regarding the Camp FIMFO project; the documentation in that request included a link to Northgate Resorts’ most recent submission to the Highland Planning Board. That contained documents including the project’s part 1 Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).

The EAF process occurs under the State Environmental Quality Review act (SEQR); SEQR ensures that the planning board fully consider the environmental impacts of a proposed project before approving it.

A project’s applicant fills out part 1 of the EAF, answering questions about environmental impact. The planning board fills out parts 2 and 3, using part 1 to determine whether the project will have a substantial effect on the environment.

If the board believes the project won’t impact the environment, it will issue a “negative declaration,” ending the SEQR review process. The board can also issue a “positive declaration,” requiring an extensive process of review with an Environmental Impact Assessment and a public hearing.

Assessing the environment

Camp FIMFO’s EAF identifies a number of ways in which the project could affect the environment.

  • Kittatinny may need to blast away some of the rock at the site to install utility infrastructure; while the applicant is still investigating how much will be needed, it ensures that all blasting will be governed by a “blasting program” reviewed and approved by Highland’s town engineer.
  • A number of endangered, threatened or candidate species might live around the project site, according to the EAF, including the northern long-eared bat, the dwarf wedgemussel and the monarch butterfly, though a separate habitat survey did not find the dwarf wedgemussel at the site. The EAF also lists a bald eagle nest located 0.4 miles outside the project’s border.
  • Kittatinny acknowledges the risk of flooding at the site, and will locate new structures and infrastructure at least two feet above the established base flood elevation (BFE). According to, the BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are predicted to hit once every 100 years.
  • Kittatinny lists 46 current full- or part-time employees at the campground, and states that the improvements will result in 89 new “full-time equivalent” (FTE) jobs. FTE jobs are calculated based on the number of hours paid in a year; two jobs at 20 hours a week each and one job at 40 hours a week are both counted as one FTE job.
  • The EAF states that “the project is not an expansion… it is a mediation of an existing campground facility.” While the project does not expand the number of campsites at Kittatinny, it replaces an undetermined number of traditional tent sites with “Recreation Vehicle Industry Association certified units.” These units range from traditional RV travel trailers to “park model RVs” (PMRVs).

In the latest presentation to the planning board, engineers from LaBella, which is shepherding the project through the permitting process, indicated that of the 324 campsites, 234 will be equipped with water, sewer and electric connections, and 108 will continue to use bathhouses.

PMRVs can be up to 15 feet wide or 36 feet long, with in-built porches, peaked roofs and wooden sidings. “Although the distinctive appearance of PMRVs may sometimes lead people to think they look like small manufactured homes… there is no practical difference in the use of PMRVs than travel trailers or fifth-wheel trailers,” reads an industry description of these units included in the planning board submission.

What comes next?

The planning board will review the EAF as part of its process of review and make either a negative or a positive declaration. The timing of that determination remains uncertain as of yet; the planning board has indicated it won’t set a public hearing for the project until the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) and the National Park Service (NPS) weigh in. (Click here for coverage of that planning board meeting.)

The EAF lists several other permits and reviews the project needs for implementation, as well as a timeline for those permits. Kittatinny plans to apply for a SPDES wastewater permit and to get consultation on water treatment and design in the summer of 2022, working with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health.

It plans to apply to the Department of Transportation for a highway work permit in the winter of 2022/23, and a building permit from the town around the same time. Later in 2023, Kittatinny plans to go before the Upper Delaware  River  Basin  Commission  for  environmental review, and to go before the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.

The project aimed for a second quarter 2024 completion, according to Betke; “Construction will not start without the appropriate, required approvals and permits.”

Click here, or see the sidebar above, for a poll on Highland's review of Camp FIMFO.

Camp FIMFO, Highland, Kittatinny Campground, Environmental Assessment Form


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