County Okays Campground Lodge Height Request

SNOW HILL – Eagle’s Nest Campground owner Jack Burbage may now construct a 41-foot tall lodge at the campground, after the Worcester County Commissioners acceded to his request for an increase in allowed accessory building heights in campgrounds countywide.

The commissioners also agreed to pass the bill as emergency legislation, which puts the new law into effect in time for construction of the Eagle’s Nest lodge to be completed by Memorial Day.

The commissioners’ vote for 45 feet, to apply to all campgrounds in the county, contradicted the Worcester County Planning Commission’s recommendation that campground accessory buildings be limited to 35 feet.

“There are houses out there that are more than 35 feet,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas. “They’re next door.”

Gulyas’ remarks echo one of the chief arguments by Burbage’s attorney, Hugh Cropper, who argued that houses, barns and industrial buildings are permitted to build to 45 feet under the county code.

“Instead of saying why can’t we go to 45 feet, I say everything else in this county can go to 45 feet,” Cropper said.

Houses in the agricultural zones may be built to 45 feet, and barns are not subject to any height restrictions. Homes in residential zones may reach 45 feet at the top of a pitched roof.

Buildings like the Worcester County Government Center in Snow Hill and the Ocean Pines Library are as tall or slightly taller than the new campground accessory building height limit.

According to Cropper, Burbage is attempting to upgrade Eagle’s Nest Campground, which needs first class amenities to become a first class destination.

Mitch Parker, managing partner of Frontier Town, concurred with the need for larger buildings for recreation and campwide functions.

Parker pointed to the log cabin style camp store at the edge of the Frontier Town property, which is 33 feet tall, a design he would like to incorporate in further development of his amenities.

“That’s the building I’d like to put on top of my swimming pool,” Parker said. “I can’t do that at 35 feet.”

Building to 45 feet would allow for more attractive buildings, with pitched roofs instead of flat, Commissioner Bud Church said.

“The standard of these [campgrounds] have to be brought up higher,” Church said.

The larger buildings could have a negative impact on the neighborhood, Commissioner Virgil Shockley feared.

“You’ve got several campgrounds next to roads and I don’t want that building sitting next to the road,” he said.

Campgrounds have significant setbacks, Cropper said.

The 35-foot limit recommended by staff and endorsed by the planning commission would reduce the impact of the building.

“We’re just concerned about commercialization,” Tudor said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to increase the allowed accessory building height to 45 feet.