GEORGIA – After 16 years of operating the Georgia Homestead Campground, its owners, Todd and Kim LeBlanc, have sold the site to developers who, as of October, have closed the campground indefinitely.

The campground, sold in September, was closed by the middle of October by its new owner, Burlington-based developer Rick Bove, who could not be reached for this article.

The sale of the campground, while reportedly bittersweet, was always intended, the LeBlancs told the Messenger earlier this month. They purchased the campground in 2003 “as an investment,” Todd LeBlanc explained.

“We never made it a secret to people,” Kim LeBlanc confirmed. “It’s been for sale forever.”

The land used for the campground spreads across 15-acres abutting Route 7 in Georgia’s South Village District, an area that town and regional officials have identified as Georgia’s development center. The town has explored development in the South Village for more than a decade now, most recently with an infrastructure study conducted in tandem with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Northwest Regional Planning Commission.

Even before the town committed the district to study, the LeBlancs predicted land in the South Village would become more valuable as time went on.

Campers gather for one of the campground’s summer events. (Courtesy of Todd LeBlanc)

“I could see that… they wanted more development in the South Village,” Todd LeBlanc, a former member of the Georgia Planning Commission and former town treasurer, said. “It was the right place, right time.”

The LeBlancs purchased the campground for $875,000 in 2003. Sixteen years later, they’d sell it for $1.25 million.

Todd LeBlanc said that, had he had enough funding, he likely would’ve gone forward with developing the site as something beyond a campground. In lieu of having that money, they ran the site as a campground, its historic role in the town.

“I just didn’t have the funds or time to do it myself,” Todd LeBlanc said.

Even before the sale of the campground to Bove, land had been carved out of the campground for development in the village. Several years ago, developers bought a 1.5-acre plot of the campground’s land on Route 7 to build a Dollar General.

Mapping done as a part of the ongoing South Village Transportation Master Plan largely predicts development on the campground’s land and did so even before the LeBlancs were approached to sell their land.

The new owners of the Georgia Homestead have yet to appear before the town’s planning commission with any formal development plans.

The sign leading into the Georgia Homestead, made by Todd LeBlanc, is still standing as of Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a snapshot in time.”

As a campground, the Georgia Homestead serviced 150 sites for campers. Most of the campground’s traffic came during the holidays and weekends. During the week itself, Todd LeBlanc said the campground would be virtually empty.

A steady 80 lots were usually leased by seasonal campers looking to take advantage of Georgia Homestead’s location just south of where Route 7 intersects with Interstate-89.

The LeBlancs managed the campground directly during their 16 years of ownership, organizing events and handling much of the repair work themselves.

“If you couldn’t putty or fix something yourself, you couldn’t keep a campground,” Todd LeBlanc said. “There’s always something that needed puttying or fixing.”

They kept a minimal staff at the campground. When that wasn’t enough, campers would offer to lend a hand, creating what Todd LeBlanc called a “sense of camaraderie.”

For more about the Georgia Homestead and its sale, read today’s Messenger or subscribe to our online edition.