BERLIN – Despite the sagging economy, plans are moving forward to convert a vast open space adjacent to a Berlin golf course into a campground with nearly 270 approved sites.
Deer Run Golf Course owner Ed Colbert this week said the project planned for a vast parcel across from the entrance to the existing golf course continues to plod forward with nearly all of the required approvals and permits in hand. The plans call for the development of a campground on the site with some cabins and sites for up to 269 recreational vehicles along with a recreation center. The plan does not call for any tent camping sites at the facility.
“It’s going to be a wonderful project, if and when we get around to doing it,” said Colbert. “It’s going to be a mixed-use campground with some nice cabins, a recreation center and over 200 sites available for recreational vehicles. We’re doing it upscale all the way.”
Colbert said the campground will co-exist with the Deer Run golf course and will be promoted as an amenity for golfers. Under Worcester County’s code, campgrounds are only allowed to be open four months of the year, which would loosely coincide with the golf season in the area.
“We’re going to market it in conjunction with the golf course,” he said. “It’s going to be a seasonal thing. I envision a group of golfers staying in one of the cabins or in an RV for the weekend and playing golf.”
One of the remaining obstacles for the project was cleared last week when federal Army Corps of Engineers public comment period closed on the proposed impact on emergent non-tidal wetlands lying with traditional agricultural lands. According to the Army Corps’ description of the project, nearly 95,000 square feet, or a little over two acres, of non-tidal wetlands will be impacted by the project and, as part of the Corps’ normal protocol, the public has an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed impacts.
However, a preliminary report on the proposal prepared by the Army Corps does not indicate any substantial problems with possible environmental impacts.
“The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest,” the report reads. “A preliminary review of this application indicates that the proposed work will not affect listed species or their critical habitat.”
Colbert said county officials have already reviewed the plans and issued the required permits for the project, making the Corps approval on the wetlands impact permit one of the last steps in the process.
Colbert said he began planning the project about four years ago and most of the permits he has acquired are active a few more years before they expire. In the meantime, he is attempting to arrange financing but has found it difficult in the current economic climate.
“The economy is still pretty awful,” he said. “”Money is frozen up and the banks aren’t keen on lending right now. I have two or three years to do something with it, but I hope to get something going much sooner.”
Colbert said his original plan for the property was to develop it with a residential project, but zoning and other issues with the county code wouldn’t allow it.
“I’m waiting for some final approval on some water and sewer issues, but there doesn’t appear to be any more major stumbling blocks,” he said. “This is going to be a nice amenity for the county. It’s going to be a nice family destination just a few miles from Ocean City and the resort area and it fits in with what the county is trying to promote with tourism.”