Nudist campground owners have appeal heard by tribunal

CENTREVILLE – The fate of a clothing-optional campground near Tamworth now rests with the province’s planning appeal tribunal.

More than two years of acrimony came to a head Thursday as the owners of a nudist ranch north of Napanee had their appeal of a township zoning decision heard by the province’s planning appeal body.

Yvonne Gibson and Hector Gravelle, owners of Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch, which opened in 2012, were appealing the 2018 denial by Stone Mills Township council of their request to have their 40-hectare property on Carroll Road rezoned to permit expansion of their campground.

In April 2018, Stone Mills Township council voted 4-3 against the rezoning application, a decision that went against recommendations from township staff and a consultant’s report. 

Gibson said the township councillors’ concerns about sewage, noise, garbage and recycling were “fabrications” and were “speculative, biased and not consistent with the evidence before it.”

Hector Gravelle and Yvonne Gibson, owners of Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch near Tamworth, prepare to leave a planning appeal tribunal meeting in Centreville on Thursday.
Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard Hector Gravelle and Yvonne Gibson, owners of Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch near Tamworth, prepare to leave a planning appeal tribunal meeting in Centreville on Thursday.

“The Township of Stone Mills reached beyond its function,” Gibson said. “They are clearly acting in a judicial function and not a legislative function.”

Gibson likened the camping experience at the ranch to a provincial park, with guests bringing in their own drinking water and food and taking out their own garbage and recycling. 

She argued that a campground was an appropriate business to operate in a rural area.

At the outset of the hearing, Local Planning Appeal Tribunal member Thomas Hodgins said the case revolved around the question of whether the township’s zoning bylaw was consistent and compliant with the official plans of the township and Lennox and Addington County and the provincial policy statement that guides rural development. 

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Source: Whig Standard

Original publication 14 November, 2019

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