MILFORD – The Caroline County Planning Commission turned a cold shoulder to a Hanover County businessman who wants to turn his special events venue into a campground.
The commission, meeting last night, held a public hearing on a request from Warren Bauserman, owner of Mr. B’s Park on Jefferson Davis Highway in Ladysmith. Bauserman is seeking a special exception permit to allow short-term camping on a portion of his property year-round.
Five neighbors spoke during the public hearing, opposing the permit. They had various concerns about the proposed campground, including increased traffic, noise, and other issues.
The commission ultimately voted 4-0 to send Bauserman’s request to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation that the permit be denied.
Bauserman told the panel the proposed campground would cater to people with expensive motorhomes, not primitive camping in tents. They would stay at the campground while playing at golf courses in Caroline, visiting nearby Kings Dominion, or attending the State Fair, he said. The campground business would have a positive impact on other businesses in the county, he suggested, such as restaurants and retail stores. That would provide a “great benefit” to the county, said Bauserman.
“This is residential,” Reuben Greene, a neighbor, told the commission, referring to the area around the park. Not far away, he noted, further south are the Lake Caroline and Lake Land’Or communities, which he called “a credit” to the Ladysmith community.
“A campground in this area is not going to be a credit to our community,” said Greene. Furthermore, permitting the campground may discourage other residential development in the area, he argued.
David Sadler, another neighbor, listed a number of concerns. A campground would attract a population of people who circumvent rules and regulations to become virtually permanent residents, he suggested. Campgrounds are “high crime areas” that increase the demand for service from the sheriff’s office, said Sadler, a former law enforcement officer.
Zach Orr, another neighbor, was more succinct. “I live there,” he told the commission. I’m happy there. I don’t want to be unhappy there.”
Mr. B’s Park, which is located about a mile north of Ladysmith Village, already has a special exception permit to operate as a special event venue with temporary camping allowed in conjunction with special events. Bauserman is seeking the new permit to establish 149 campsites on 20 acres where special events are now allowed, and he indicated he might seek another permit in the future to allow camping on more acreage. The entire property consists of a little more than 88 acres.
The park is not served by public water and sewer. It is served by a well and about a dozen sinks for water and 160 port-o-potties and a pump-and-haul truck for sanitary service. State health regulations would require the campground to have a bathhouse, and both county and state officials would have to approve a permanent pump-and-haul facility.
Commissioners were troubled by the lack of sanitary service for the park. “To me, I just feel you need to consider this,” said commissioner Milton Bush.
Commissioner Walter “Pete” Davis, who represents the Madison District, where the park is located, also expressed concern about the lack of infrastructure to provide water and sewer service. In addition, Davis pointed out, as noted in the planning staff report, the park is in an area designated by the comprehensive plan as planned residential, and campgrounds are not compatible with that designation. (The property is zoned rural preservation, which allows a campground by special exception.)
Commissioner Tim Thompson indicated he might have supported Bauserman’s request if he had done soil testing to determine if a septic system could be installed and if he had followed “common sense” in preparing his application.
The motion to recommend the Board of Supervisors deny the permit was approved by commissioners Bush, Davis, Thompson, and Bob Fiumara. Les Stanley and William Smith were absent.