Temporary campground approved at Lake Arrowhead

Page News and Courier

LURAY, Aug. 1 ― The town is proceeding with plans for a temporary campground at Lake Arrowhead after the Page County Planning Commission unanimously recommended that a special use permit for the project be approved.

The Page County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the request last Tuesday during a joint public hearing that drew one speaker.

The temporary event campground will include 35 sites within 1.75 acres of the 134-acre park, according to the county's acting zoning administrator Tracy Clatterback. The campground will be utilized during four annual events ― Swim Fest Luray, the Luray international and sprint triathlons and the Shenandoah Half Marathon ― over a collective period of no more than seven days each year, to help accommodate athletes in town for the events.

The 35 primitive campsites, located near the Town of Luray's shelter, will accommodate generator hookups, Clatterback told supervisors, adding that the town would bring in “shower trucks” and temporary bathroom facilities during the campground's use.

The town applied for a special use permit for the project on June 23, with a special request that it be approved before Aug. 19 and 20, when the 12th installment of the Luray Triathlon is expected to draw thousands to the area.

The town cleared the land for the proposed campground prior to applying for a special use permit, assistant town manager Bryan Chrisman told supervisors, because Luray was unaware that one was required due to zoning. The park for years has included a designated scout campground in a wooded area near Dry Run Road.

According to the Page County Campground Ordinance, campgrounds are only permitted in Woodland-Conservation and Agricultural Districts by special use permit.

Notices were mailed to adjoining property owners of the campground, but no comments were received in writing, according a July 25 memo included in Tuesday night's agenda packet.

The hearing drew one speaker, Ronnie Williams, who spoke against the project. Noting that he lived across from the campground, Williams told supervisors he “knows what's in store” for residents, citing increased traffic on public roads that are not “adequate” to sustain both vehicles and athletes who often cycle and run event courses before and after events take place.

“We have paid our taxes to have a usable road,” said Williams, adding that the crowded road often requires vehicles to drive well below the speed limit, as well as causes safety concerns when vehicles attempt to pass. “Athletes make matters works because they break traffic laws right along with the vehicles.”

Williams additionally posed questions about who would monitor the campground at the park, which closes otherwise closes at dark.

Page County Planning Commissioner Steve Atkins (Dist. 2) noted that according to information relayed to the commission by the town, police would regularly patrol the area during the campground's operation. A town employee will additionally remain on site “24/7,” added Chrisman.

“Certainly there are a couple concerns, but … the intensity out there I don't feel is being dramatically increased,” said planning commissioner member Johnathan Comer (Dist. 5).

Supervisor Larry Foltz (Dist. 4) asked if lowering the speed limit on Dry Run Road is possible. Noting that changing the speed limit on a road is a county action, Chrisman said that a temporary reduction is permitted. For example, Chrisman continued, a temporary reduction in speed from 35 to 25 miles per hour is in the works for Collins Avenue later this month, when the 65th annual Page Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair kicks off on Aug. 19.

Supervisors unanimously approved the special use permit for 35 temporary campsites at Lake Arrowhead for a term of five years. Town officials plan to utilize the newly-approved campground next weekend during the two-day Luray Triathlon.

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