Steady movement on FIMFO

Changes in NPS staff stall determination

Posted 2/1/23

ELDRED, NY — A full agenda in front of a sparse crowd was the order of business for the Highland Planning Board on January 26.

The meeting was held at the Eldred High School …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Steady movement on FIMFO

Changes in NPS staff stall determination


ELDRED, NY — A full agenda in front of a sparse crowd was the order of business for the Highland Planning Board on January 26.

The meeting was held at the Eldred High School gymnasium.

With the relocation of Cody Hendrix, the board received word from the new National Park Service (NPS) superintendent that comments on whether the redevelopment of Kittatinny Canoes into Camp FIMFO (Fun Is More Fun Outdoors) is in compliance with the River Management Plan are delayed. Hendrix was the lead staff member conducting the review for the NPS.

The result is that while the planning board keeps working with Northgate Resorts engineers and lawyers on the project, no determination can be made as to whether the project will receive approval for its site plan development plan.

“It seems like we’re back at square one,” planning board chairman Norm Sutherland said.

Nevertheless, the process for refining the $44 million, 230-acre 428-tent site conversion into an emerging brand of upscale family camping resorts continued.

The team from LaBella Associates and its attorneys, who are shepherding the proposal through the planning board permitting process, were on hand to answer questions; they presented a “drive-by” video rendering of the project.

Traveling north on Route 97 in Barryville, the rendering showed a split-rail fence, set in a park-like setting, with spaced mature trees. As the video rolled on, Kittatinny general manager Rocco Baldassari pointed out the canopy in the pool area, the miniature golf course and the welcome center. The entrance sign was set back beyond the 165-parking area, which had one car depicted in the lot.

Barryville resident Christine Martin asked if another rendering could be created that showed a full parking lot, as well as the grass parking on the river side of Route 97, which had the capacity to hold over 100 cars for day-trip river users.

Regarding the parking areas, Caren LoButto, of LaBella Associates, said that there would be improvements to the two existing linear parking areas. These improvements include changing the surface from gravel to pavement, plus stormwater runoff-filtering catch basins and landscaping. She said that the lot would be used by people who were registering before going to their campsites, and also by visitors to the camp store. She added that the lots were designed for more cars than expected, and would be used as parking for special events. The two lots have a 285-car capacity.

The January 26 meeting had been rescheduled from January 25 due to inclement weather. That rescheduling caused attorney to the town Michael Davidoff to be absent with other commitments, and town engineer Ken Ellsworth to be on Zoom.

According to Ellsworth, further documentation and questions are being worked through.

Sutherland said that the board has received responses to technical questions, the hydrology study, an updated site plan, a noise study, and a cut-and-fill rendering. These additional documents will be posted on the Town of Highland’s website within a week, he said.

While members of the public in the audience had an opportunity to ask questions, those on Zoom did not have equal access. Most notably, Tusten resident Anie Stanley emphatically questioned why, if the project was changing, the public was not allowed the right to continue to comment. In a heated exchange, Sutherland muted Stanley and said that he was not going to allow for a back-and-forth argument.

During correspondence, Sutherland said that 13 letters had been received. Recent letters posted on the town’s website ask that the planning board require a full environmental impact study be conducted.

Deja vu all over again

In what could be a misunderstanding about what is needed for planning board approval and what is needed from other state agencies, John Pizzolato and Roswell Hamrick, doing business as River Holding LLC, were in front of the board seeking approval for a site plan for the Barryville Oasis, the redevelopment of the property formerly housing D&R Auto, at the intersection of Route 97 and County Road 21 in Barryville. The partners were involved in a zoning dispute about paperwork with the Highland Zoning Board of Appeals in 2020 that was filed in the renovation of the Stickett Inn in 2012.

Pizzolato said that a letter of intent was filed with the Highland Town Clerk on March 22. Their plans were to convert the former auto repair shop into a to-go store and cider-tasting room, which would also serve prepared food. The letter, according to Pizzolato, was misfiled and was not received by the building department or the planning board until December. They appeared before the board asking for site plan approval.

Sutherland thanked the pair for the presentation and said that the board needed an engineered site plan, showing the septic, parking, contour lines for handicapped parking, property lines and setbacks to move forward on the approval. Additionally, the board needed to have on file the New York State Department of Transportation’s lease agreement and a cidery license from the state Ag and Markets department. As the property is in Highland’s river corridor overlay district, Sutherland said the plans needed to be reviewed by the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) and the NPS.

Pizzolato and Hamrick asked that because there were no changes to the physical building or the topography, and what they proposed was a permitted use in the commercial hamlet district, conditional site plan approval be issued. Pizzolato and Hamrick said that the code enforcement officer, Jim Hanson, had visited the site several times while they were renovating, and had issued a building permit for an upgrade to the electrical system and the gas pump canopy. They were not told that additional approvals were needed, they said. Additionally, they said, members of the town board were well aware of what they were doing at the site and all of their improvements were cosmetic.

Sutherland said he would pass on what was presented to the town engineer and the town’s attorney,

Reached after the meeting, Kerry Engelhardt, UDC Resources and Land Use Specialist, said that projects that require site plan approval within the river corridor need to be sent to her so that she could determine if a formal review is required by the UDC and the NPS. This is also the case with Highland’s short-term rentals in the river corridor, all of which require a special-use permit.

Short-term rentals

Saying that short-term rentals “cannot impact your neighbors,” code officer BJ Gettel presented the newly created short-term rental application process. The application lays out strict guidelines that must be followed, including proof of insurance, the posting of a 911 sign and a management plan that indicates how garbage, snow removal, lawn mowing, noise and lighting will be addressed. It limits occupancy to two guests per bedroom and needs to include a floor and parking plan, a property maintenance plan, and a property survey. In applying for an application, the planning board will set a public hearing and notify neighbors. The application fee is set at $500 annually.

The board heard from Ronald Walborn, who is the first to apply under the new guidelines for a short-term rental application for his cabin property on Route 55. The board set a public hearing to take place at the next planning board meeting on Wednesday, Feburary 22.


The board also reviewed the newly adopted cannabis law, passed on January 3 by the Highland town board. Member Jeff Spitz asked that the law specify the number of dispensaries that would be ultimately allowed, and member Laura Burrell questioned whether the map provided—which included 1,000-foot setbacks from public spaces and 500-foot setbacks from residential property lines in the commercial hamlet district—was accurate. She also questioned whether the hours of operation were in compliance with strict guidelines set by New York State.

The board will next meet on Wednesday, February 22 at the Eldred High School gymnasium. Sutherland said that for consistency, the meetings will be held at the school until the Camp FIMFO project has run its course through the permitting process.

Camp FIMFO, FIMFO, Kittatinny Canoes, Barryville Oasis, John Pizzolato, short term rentals, cannabis


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here