It’s come to my attention that a business venture named “Sojourner’s Glamping” is under contract to purchase a roughly 100-acre property on Mutton Hollow Road. Initially, the property was approved for 29 homes, but it was never developed. For now, the property remains zoned A-1 agriculture, meaning it falls under a two-acre minimum per residence requirement designed to protect Greene County’s scenery and keep large-scale development in designated growth areas. However, Sojourner’s Glamping wants to develop a “glamorous camping” facility with more than 200 canvas-and-wood tent-cabins, complete with heating and air conditioning, bathrooms and kitchenettes along with a pool, restaurant, bar, grocery store and clubhouse.
Fortunately, the new buyers’ contract is contingent on Greene County’s Planning Commission recommending—and the Board of Supervisors granting—a special use permit (SUP) to commercially develop the land. That said, it would be a mistake to grant a special use permit for what amounts to a hotel with 234 suites in an agriculturally zoned area with single-family homes.
Because the development doesn’t comply with Greene County’s long-range plan that aims to keep development in designated growth areas, and because it would negatively affect existing locally-owned lodging businesses, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors should reject the buyers’ request for a special use permit. With a minimum of two guests per unit, there could be upwards of 500 guests at a time, vastly increasing traffic on Route 810 (Dyke Road). Since this small country road is used regularly by residents, bicyclists, tractors and farm equipment, it would be dangerous and against the community’s best interest for the county to recommend such a development. Further, the developers state that the resort is designed to be a destination in itself, offering food, shopping and activities on site. Therefore, the resort would only marginally increase patronage at local businesses, and it would hurt the already thriving, minimally intrusive lodging businesses owned and managed by permanent residents, not outside corporations.
Most significantly, the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors should reject the special use permit to protect immediate neighbors and permanent residents who chose to live in this area because of the peace and quiet, privacy and scenery. A trendy resort for 500 or more tourists is the antithesis of the lifestyle we chose, and it dishonors the area’s natural beauty. Smoke from 234 campfires, air and light pollution, as well as traffic noise and noise from the swimming pool, clubhouse and playground are just a few of the nuisances neighbors will contend with. Resort guests trespassing is a more dangerous one. And it’s a serious concern not least because neighbors of the proposed venture regularly use their land for hunting and shooting sports. Further, concentrated food and cooking odors from tent-cabins as well as garbage will attract bears who, once acclimated to humans and human food, will pose a danger not only to guests but also to neighbors and their property.
Ultimately, the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors should support neighbors’ and residents’ best interests by rejecting the proposed special use permit.