Resident appeals to Planning Commission to revisit KOA approval

by Kate Shunney

Members of the Morgan County Planning Commission were asked last week to reconsider their vote approving development plans for a KOA campground in Great Cacapon, and revisit some elements of the campground plans that are of concern for local residents.

During the public comment portion of the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, July 25, Samantha Davis asked to go on the record with concerns and questions about the KOA approval.

In May, Aaron Bills got a commercial development approval to construct an RV campground at the base of Cacapon Mountain in Great Cacapon. Planners made the split vote during a standing room only meeting filled with opponents of the project.

Last week, Davis said many of the objections to the project still hadn’t been addressed.

One of the concerns is the possibility that the old Noland Farm on which the campground will be built was the site of an Indian village, and may contain archaeological sites.

Davis said a second concern that is reason for appealing the permit approval is the status of stormwater management plans with the Department of Environmental Protection.

Water demand and plans to drill deep wells for the campground also concern Great Cacapon residents, Davis said. Those who live in the village all get their residential water from private wells, which rely on local water tables to supply their needs.

Davis asked planners if they were aware if wastewater plans had changed since the first KOA campground plans had been submitted. She said it was her understanding that the campground’s wastewater system would require large holding tanks that would contain waste material until they could go into the Great Cacapon sewer plant.

Davis asked if planners had proper time to review and consider all aspects of the campground plan, saying Phase I plans were only in the hands of the Planning Commission for a short period of time before their May 23 vote.

She also asked if the Planning Commission had put a safety plan in place or pursued a traffic study to see how the campground business would affect the movement of vehicles on Route 9/Cacapon Road.

Davis asked planners if they had considered endangered species that might be affected by the development, the well-being of local residents and the impact on the county budget if improvements had to be made after the development was built.

Planning Commission president Pat Logsdon thanked Davis for her questions and presentation, and said the board of volunteers have the job of reviewing multiple requirements on a single project.

Planning board member and County Commissioner Bill Clark said Davis had given the Planning Commission a good list of considerations when they look at county ordinances to see if those issues are included in local rules.