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Two campgrounds proposed for Lower Towamensing

A Lower Towamensing zoning officer has initially rejected a New York’s company’s plans to build 71 campsites on roughly 190 acres near Hahns Dairy Road.

A zoning hearing board will need to review the plans.

Getaway House Campground had a meeting at Palmerton Borough Hall last week to engage the community about its project.

The two campgrounds are planned off Wintergreen Road, Scott Levit, Senior Project Manager of Real Estate Entitlement, said in a letter to township zoning/building code official Duane Dellecker.

He said the company is “proposing the design of an Outpost that reflects the character of the local environment and has operating standards that ensure the safety of our guests, immediate surroundings, and the community.”

“Based on its stunning natural features and locations, this property provides the perfect canvas for our proposed use. Our goal is to create a unique, low-impact experience that connects our guests with nature, while creating local jobs and driving commerce to the area.”

Levit said in his letter that Getaway “provides escapes to campgrounds with tiny cabins nestled in nature that allow our guests to disconnect from their busy routines and simply enjoy undistracted time in a remote and serene environment. Our locations, or Outposts, as we call them, are situated within a short drive of large populations and offer easy and frequent opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors while within the comfort of their own tiny cabin they book by the night.”

Levit said in his letter, “Based on its stunning natural features and location (in Lower Towamensing), this property provides the perfect canvas for our proposed use. Our goal is create a unique, low-impact experience that connects our guests with nature, while creating local jobs and driving commerce to the area.”

Levit said in his letter that Getaway opened its first outpost in 2015 two hours north of Boston. Since then, the company has added 25 more outposts, including locations outside of Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Portland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Charlotte, Chicago, Nashville, Seattle, New Orleans, Hartford, Minneapolis, and two outside of New York City.

Request denied

In his rejection letter dated Jan. 3, Dellecker said the properties straddle both sides of Wintergreen Road, mostly located in an RC (Rural Conservation) zoning district.

A portion of one of the tax parcels is located in an R-1 (Low Density Residential) zoning district. However, Dellecker said no campsites are proposed for this portion of the tract; only an access roadway.

Dellecker said Getaway has proposed two campgrounds on the properties; one on each side of Wintergreen Road. He said 37 campsites are proposed for the campground on the east side, while the other 34 campsites are proposed for the campground on the west side of the road.

The zoning ordinance lists a campground use as a special exception use in the R-C zoning district; subject to the regulations found in another section of the zoning ordinance, which outlines 12 requirements for a campground, Dellecker said.

He said that the application as submitted does not address the following zoning requirements:

• The boundaries of campsite areas are to be delineated with an evergreen planting strip and marked with signs to prevent inadvertent trespassing onto adjoining properties.

• A copy of the campground layout must be forwarded to the fire chief for comment. Aquashicola Fire Chief Bill George submitted a review letter dated Dec. 25. that listed concerns related to entrances; street side; cul-de-sacs; clearances; fireworks; firearms and target shooting; garbage; open burning; fire protection and fire detection; and road grades.

• Each campground with more than 20 campsites should provide an office staffed during normal business hours.

• All sewage collection, treatment and disposal should be in accordance with PA Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

• Not less than one tap of potable water per each 20 campsites shall be provided.

• A plan is needed to control noise, litter, lighting, trespassing, traffic and parking.

Dellecker said that a section of the township zoning ordinance requires Subdivision and Land Development approval for this type of development, and that should the zoning hearing board rule favorably on a forthcoming appeal, approvals will be required for any additional permits.

Plans are needed for visibility at intersections and an Erosion & Sedimentation Control Plan will be required from the Carbon County Conservation District.

The plan submitted proposes an 18-feet wide access drive, but zoning requires access drives 26 feet wide for two-way use.

Parking, loading facilities and driveways are required to be asphalt or concrete or paving block. The submitted plan proposes gravel driveways.

Dellecker said a section of the zoning ordinance addresses sign regulations, and that the plans submitted do not address signs.

A map of the proposed campground. ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID W. ROWE