Commissioners Approve New Cluster Design Standards For Campgrounds

Commissioners Approve New Cluster Design Standards For Campgrounds
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SNOW HILL – County leaders approved a text amendment last week that will allow for a new cluster design at local campgrounds.

The Worcester County Commissioners last Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve a text amendment that allows a cluster design for cabins and park model trailers at rental campgrounds. The new layout will allow campgrounds like Frontier Town to try a different layout than the traditional rows of campers and vehicles parked next to each other.

“This isn’t to increase density, this is to make a better camping experience,” said attorney Hugh Cropper, who submitted the text amendment on behalf of Sun TRS Frontier, LLC.

According to county staff, the text amendment before the commissioners last Tuesday would create new cluster design standards for rental campgrounds. The new standards would allow for flexibility to minimum campsite area, setback, width, road frontage and parking requirements. The changes would apply only to recreational park trailers and cabins in rental and membership campgrounds.

Cropper said the company behind Frontier Town operated campgrounds nationally and wanted to implement changes at the Berlin facility that were becoming popular throughout the country. Rather than the rows upon rows of RVs surrounded by campers’ personal vehicles, the company wants to set up a cluster of cabins with parking farther away.

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“What it does is – we don’t eliminate the parking, we don’t reduce the parking — we just move it over here out of the way and we cluster the campsites so in between them you’ve got green space,” Cropper said.

He added that it was limited to 20% of the campground. And while a text amendment applies county-wide, Cropper said in this case Frontier Town planned to use this cluster design for the 112-campsite expansion it already had approved.

“This will allow us to take what was cookie cutter, rectangle lots all on a paved road, and cluster them into a more natural, environmentally friendly experience,” he said.

Commissioners questioned parking plans, particularly whether offsite parking would be permitted. Staff said it would not and that the parking for the cluster had to be within the area of the campground devoted to the cluster design.

Diane Stelzner, a South Point resident, said her community wasn’t opposed to the cluster design but had concerns about public safety.

“So far nothing has been done to the intersection of Assateague Road and 611 to provide for this large influx of additional traffic…,” she said.

She said the commissioners and Maryland’s State Highway Administration should have the campground pay for adding a stoplight to the busy intersection. Stelzner added that she felt there was too much leeway in the text amendment as proposed and that she was worried golf carts and pedestrians would end up trying to cross Route 611.

“We want traffic issues addressed before the camp sites are built,” she said.

Staff stressed that under the text amendment off-premise parking was not permitted. While the parking doesn’t have to be next to the campsite it still has to be within that section of the campground.

“This is meant to be a better experience and a more environmentally friendly condition with less impervious surface,” Cropper said. “It’s actually more expensive for the developer to build but it results in a better experience.”

The commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the text amendment, with Commissioners Bud Church and Diana Purnell absent.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.