SNOW HILL – Fort Whaley will be able to expand following approval of an amendment to the county’s water and sewerage plan.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment that will allow Fort Whaley to add more than 60 new campsites, although not before voicing concerns. While Commissioner Ted Elder questioned the burgeoning number of campsites in the north end of the county, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic brought up the issue of a special event that has been based at the Route 50 campground in recent years.
“This is the headquarters of one of the biggest public safety issues that comes to this county every year, the H20i convention,” Mitrecic said, pointing out that the expansion would provide more space for event participants. “I support the issue but I would like operators of the campground to look into ways to curb that activity.”
According to Bob Mitchell, the county’s head of environmental programs, the water and sewerage plan amendment will allow Fort Whaley, which currently has 210 sites, to expand by roughly 63 sites. To do so, the campground, which still has a 31,500 gallons per day discharge permit, will build an additional drain field and install a package plant. Mitchell said the plant would be an improvement, as Fort Whaley had been operating with one of the last large septic systems in the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin.
Elder asked how many campgrounds the north end of the county could sustain, as Fort Whaley and Frontier Town were expanding and plans for a campground at the Bay Club had been shared with the public.
“How many additional campsites can we put out there?” he said.
Hugh Cropper, attorney representing Sun Communities, owner of Frontier Town, Fort Whaley and Castaways, said the area was underserved when it came to campgrounds.
“When you look at Sussex County, when you look at Cape May County N.J., they have multiple number of campsites as you see in Worcester County,” he said. “Camping has become incredibly popular.”
He pointed out that while there were a number of campsites at Assateague, they would not be there forever.
“I think their long-term plan is to get rid of those and turn Assateague back into a preserve,” he said.
Cropper added all campgrounds he represented were full and had waiting lists.
“This is progress in the right direction,” he said. “You’re going from 210 campsites with no treatment at all right now going into a drain field to a treatment system that’s designed to achieve eight milligrams per liter of nitrogen which is a pretty high level treatment.”