The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) has postponed a Public Hearing set for Tuesday, April 18 about proposals to place an RV campground inside Cacapon State Park. On Monday afternoon, attorneys for the DNR told a Morgan County Circuit Court they had postponed the hearing after a legal challenge called into question whether the state had properly advertised the official meeting.
In an agreed order entered into Morgan County Circuit Court, DNR attorneys said they believed they could prove they had met the public notice requirements for the Public Hearing, but “the Defendants do not wish to proceed if there is an appearance of impropriety, but instead desire to assure the public that it is in full compliance with any and all notice requirements. Accordingly, the Defendants find it fitting to cancel the meeting scheduled for April 18, 2023.” The order can be read here.
The order came just hours before a 4 p.m. hearing set for the matter before Judge Debra McLaughlin.
On Friday, April 14, a petition was filed in Morgan County Circuit Court calling for the Public Hearing to be cancelled.
Dale Kirchner, represented by attorney Larry Schultz, filed a petition for writ of mandamus, calling for the hearing to be stopped because the public had not been properly notified.
The petition says the DNR is required to provide public notice of a public hearing by a Class II legal advertisement and by posting notice of the meeting on the State Auditor’s website. Schultz argued that the DNR had not posted the meeting on the Auditor’s website in enough time to meet the requirement. He argued the DNR should cancel the Tuesday hearing and comply with the notice requirements.
The DNR did publish a legal notice in The Journal about the meeting at Cacapon.
In response to Schultz’s filing, Judge McLaughlin issued a “Rule to Show Cause” order, ordering Brett McMillion, chief of the DNR, to show cause why the legal notice of the public hearing was not faulty. DNR attorneys responded on Monday with the announcement that the hearing has been postponed. That led to Schultz’s petition being dismissed, as the validity of the meeting became a moot point.
As of Monday afternoon, no new hearing date had been set.
The purpose of the hearing was to consider three RV campground proposals submitted to the State Parks in response to the state’s request for proposals. The state asked for private companies to propose adding RV camping sites and other amenities to Cacapon.
Blue Water of Ocean City, Md. proposed a 250-site and a 350-site RV campground plus waterpark features around the park’s upper reservoir lake. River & Trail Outfitters of Harper’s Ferry proposed a 50-site RV park and a mountain bike shuttle service, plus an air-soft shooting range at the park. Scenic LLC of Berkeley Springs proposed a partnership between Cacapon and their 178-site campground being designed in Great Cacapon.