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Becket glamping venture drops its bid, after a lead developer questions a local board's ability

Dream Away lodge render 2 (copy) (copy)

An architect's rendering of proposed camp dwellings that would have been part of a luxury camping development adjoining the grounds of the Dream Away Lodge on County Road in Becket. The developer, Hit the Road RV LLC, has withdrawn its application for a special permit. Its manager partner, Daniel I. Weinstein, wrote to the Planning Board's chairman at the close of the last public hearing: “It was clearly apparent tonight that the planning board is unable to make a decisive decision on what’s best for the town with regard to our application.”

BECKET — The dream of a luxury campground beside the storied Dream Away Lodge in Becket is dead, even before the town’s Planning Board had a chance to continue an open public hearing.

A local attorney made it official Thursday: “Dear Members of the Planning Board,” Lenox attorney Jeffrey R. Lynch wrote in a letter. “Thank you for your time and attention to our application. Given the circumstances of this transaction. [Hit the Road] RV LLC withdraws its zoning application.”

Hit the Road wanted a special permit to create a 100-site “glamping” facility, a mix of tents and cabins, on 48 acres off County Road, alongside the now-closed Dream Away Lodge, owned by Daniel Osman.

Osman held a purchase-and-sale agreement with the developer, which was said to be contingent on the special permit approval.

The Planning Board had planned to resume taking public comment on the project next month, after which it would move to deliberations. The public hearing opened April 13.

Dream Away Lodge driveway (copy) (copy)

Daniel Osman, owner of the Dream Away Lodge, at 1342 County Road in Becket, held an agreement to sell property to Hit the Road RV LLC to develop a "glamping" destination with 100 camping sites. But the developer has withdrawn its application for a special permit.

But board members already had reason to believe the project’s proponents would drop their quest.

The night of the most recent public hearing June 8, Daniel I. Weinstein, managing partner for a group called HTR Investors, sent an email to Robert Ronzio, chair of the board, questioning the panel’s handling of the application.

“It was clearly apparent tonight that the planning board is unable to make a decisive decision on what’s best for the town with regard to our application,” Weinstein wrote. “With that said, we are respectfully withdrawing it and wish Beckett the best of luck,” he wrote, misspelling the town’s name.

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The board had paused its proceedings on Hit the Road’s application just before 9 p.m. that night. Weinstein sent his email at 9:03 p.m.

Lynch, Weinstein’s lawyer, had just urged the board to advance the application quickly. The kind of camping proposed, he said, was allowed by Becket’s zoning.

“We’re not proposing anything more or less than what the townspeople of Becket have authorized through their enactment of the zoning ordinance, in which they state that camping for commercial purposes is allowed by a special permit in this zone,” he said.

A call to Ronzio on Thursday seeking comment on Weinstein’s claim about the board’s inability to act was not immediately returned.

The withdrawal of the application was applauded by members of Concerned Residents of Becket Inc. The group, which claims to represent 50 Becket families, had hired a Pittsfield attorney to press its case that the project would bring traffic and noise and pose a risk to public safety.

“An overwhelming number of Becket residents have established, over the past three Planning Board meetings, the multiple reasons why this project should not be approved,” the group said in a statement. “Their commitment, activism, and most of all, their effective oral and written presentations to the board, were compelling, and to be applauded.”

The group’s attorney, Elisabeth C. Goodman, said the project was a mismatch with “a quiet, rural, residential neighborhood.”

The project was supported by others in town, including several who spoke in favor of a development that would help revive the closed Dream Away Lodge, as well as compensate its owner, Osman, for his years of investment in community-building.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

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Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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