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Senate approves bill targeting disruptive campers

February 2, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Rowdy campers, beware: The state is moving ahead with legislation that would let campground owners remove disruptive guests.

State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, sponsored the bill, which passed the Senate earlier this week. She said in an emailed statement the measure gives campground owners the same authority hotels and motels have when guests became disruptive.

"When guests or visitors become disruptive and a threat to other guests it's important that when they are asked to leave the law backs up campground owners," Little said. "This legislation provides clarity."

Currently, courts and law-enforcement agencies cite a landlord-tenant relationship when it comes to campground owners and guests. Don Bennett, president and CEO of Campground Owners of New York, which endorsed the bill, said the law has often treated private campgrounds the same as mobile home parks.

"It would not allow removal because it's considered a dwelling," he said. "But a campsite is a temporary-use lodging. We've had some troubles with that: You can't kick them (disruptive campers) out because it's a tenant relationship, and in camping, it's really not the case."

The bill would let campground owners kick out guests for several reasons:

-They aren't registered as a guest or visitor.

-They've remained on the campground beyond their stay.

-They've created a disturbance that impedes on another guest.

-They've violated any local, state or federal law.

The law would also let police charge campers with trespassing if they refuse to leave after being asked to.

Bennett said the bill, if enacted into law, would "give peace officers a little bit more guidance." He said he hopes the Assembly will act quickly on it. Long Island Assemblyman Steve Englebright is sponsoring the bill in that chamber.

"It's sorely needed in our industry," Bennett said, adding that it "levels the playing field" between private campground owners and those sites run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Environmental conservation officers, forest rangers and parks police already have the authority to remove disruptive campers from state-operated campgrounds.



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