Santa's Land campground nixed by DRB


PUTNEY -- The Development Review Board has rejected a request from the owners of Santa's Land to develop a campground at the embattled theme park.

Lillian Billewicz, who purchased Santa's Land in 2013, was seeking a zoning permit to open a campground at the 42-acre park.

Billewicz originally appeared before the Putney DRB during a July 16 hearing but her application and supporting documents were incomplete and the board asked her to come to the meeting on Aug. 19 with the necessary information.

Billewicz did not show up for the meeting Tuesday night and so the board unanimously rejected her request for a zoning permit because she failed to provide details on the proposed campground.

"Her application for conditional use and site plan review for the campground was denied," Development Review Board Chairman Pip Bannister said Wednesday. "The application was denied on the basis of inadequate information provided."

Billewicz wanted to develop a campground with a new shower and room for 15 tents on the eastern edge of Santa's Land, according to her original application.

At the July 16 hearing the DRB asked for more information on where the campsites would be located.

Putney's zoning regulations require a minimum 2,500-square-foot allowance for each campsite and each site must have a minimum of width of 25 feet.

"She was supposed to provide an updated site plan," Bannister said. "We did not receive any new information and so we denied the application. We could not evaluate if the plan conformed to our zoning regs because we did not have basic information."

Billewicz was reached for comment Wednesday but refused to talk about Santa's Land, or about the proposed campground.

Billewicz, and Santa's Land caretaker Brian Deistler, are expected to be in Windham Superior Court next week for a pre-trial conference on the animal cruelty charges they face.

Windham County Sheriff's Deputy Trevor Dickerman found the remains of 18 dead animals, including 16 deer, when he visited Santa's Land on Feb. 28.

Billewicz and Deistler have pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Billewicz is also filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection and she is supposed to provide her complete financial statements to the court before 10 a.m. Thursday.

In March the Putney DRB approved a permit to allow Billewicz to re-open the Igloo Restaurant which is next door to Santa's Land.

Santa's Land has been mostly closed, though the park opened Aug. 9 and 10 for what it called a special birthday celebration for Santa.

Santa's Land originally opened Aug. 10, 1957, according to the official Santa's Land Facebook page.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.


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