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RV Park Would Spoil Sanctity of Nearby Cemetery

June 19, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Virginia’s Smyth County supervisors followed last week what one of them characterized as a rare unanimous recommendation by the county planning commission and declined to issue a special use permit for a campground at Konnarock, located in the western tip of the state. 

Ronnie Chambers of Greensboro, N.C., applied in April for a special use permit to develop cabins and a bath house on property lying west of Route 600 above Konnarock, the special use permit application showed. 

Under county zoning code, campgrounds in agricultural/residential are allowable only as a special use and with permit, according to SWVAtoday.com. 

More recently, Chambers told Smyth County Zoning Administrator Clegg Williams that he wanted to install 10 to 12 hookups for recreational vehicles and provide camping for a small number of riders and horses. 

At a joint public hearing in late May held by the planners and supervisors, County Attorney John Tate said the hearing could only address the cabins and bath house in the application. It also led to suspicions like that voiced by Supervisor Marvin Perry, who was concerned that Chambers had in mind other activities outside those provided in his project description on the special use permit application. 

Perry said Williams did not know about the RV hookups. “What else might we not know about?” 

Too Much Opposition 

Commissioner Graham Davidson told Chambers after the public hearing there was not another person in the room besides Chambers who favored the campground permit. “There’s too much coming on later that you did not put on this application,” Davidson said. 

Last week, Supervisor Brenda Waddell said that with the permit in hand, Chambers could build any number of cabins. Williams said substantial changes in the required site plan would require reapplication for permits, and that the supervisors could impose conditions to the issuance of the permit. 

Chambers told the planners and supervisors in May his intent was to create “Family and Friends Hideaway,” a place available for rent only by his personal friends and relatives, and to church youth groups. While it would be a commercial interest, he said the campground would not be advertised and would be open eight months of the year. 

But current and former Konnarock residents and others with relatives buried in Laurel Valley Cemetery adjacent to the entrance to the Chambers property strongly opposed the campground proposal, citing fears of trash and vandalism and a general disturbance of the serenity and sanctity of the cemetery. 

Several Konnarock residents attended the public hearing, a few of whom spoke against the campground, and heard the planners unanimously vote not to recommend that the supervisors issue Chambers a special use permit. 

“It’s unusual that for once the planning commission made a unanimous decision,” Perry said at the supervisors meeting last week where Supervisor Darlene Neitch had a petition she said bore 237 signatures in opposition to the campground. 

Williams, who said at the hearing he had received a number of e-mails and letters from campground opponents, said more “similar if not identical” communications had come to his office. 

Williams said that since the hearing, Chambers withdrew the bath house plan “since he could not get a permit for the RV (hookups)” that, according to Tate, would have required a separate special use permit application.

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