The new owners of Misty Mountain Camp Resort near Crozet want to add more campsites to the property along U.S. 250, but some neighbors are concerned about campers trespassing, which they say has been a problem for years.
Neighbors are also concerned about noise and water and sewer capacity issues on the site.
“I need some help in figuring out how to keep campers off my property, and I need some help from somebody so when police respond they don’t point guns at my head,” Cullen Tilman, the neighboring property owner to the south, said at a virtual community meeting held Tuesday.
“It’s happened a few times, meaning three or more, and I cannot live like this,” he said.
Misty Mountain Camp Resort owners are asking Albemarle County for a special-use permit amendment to allow for 16 cabins and 172 campsites on the 47.11 acre property. That’s an increase of 68 campsites.
They are also asking to change a current condition that requires that the cabins not be used from November 15 to March 15. Instead, camp officials suggest limiting the duration for which any cabin is used to 30 nights per stay.
The property is zoned Rural Areas, which allows camping with a special-use permit. The permit has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
The campground was sold last April for $4.5 million to Misty Mountain Investment LLC. Andrew Baldwin, president of Core Real Estate and Development, is listed as the applicant/owner on some of the documents submitted to the county and answered questions at the virtual community meeting.
Baldwin said they are not in a rush on this expansion.
“We want to do it once and we want to do it once correctly,” he said. “Whether it’s a year from now or two years from now, it’s something that we want to get right.”
There are currently four special-use permits and permanent amendments on the camp site. One of the permits allows for 10 cabins, but 16 cabins were built under previous ownership. A narrative submitted with the application says Baldwin “wishes to bring the site into conformance.”
During a question and answer period, Tilman said he’s had “countless” people come onto his property from the campground and has called the police about trespassing. He said he has retained an attorney.
There are no signs or telling campers where the property line starts or stops, he said.
“I can’t get any relief from any of the owners,” he said. “I’m hopeful, real hopeful, that these new owners will help me.”
Baldwin said the campground is currently having signs made that warn that if campers leave the property, they will be asked to leave and be permanently banned from the campground.
“It’s going to be a zero tolerance rule,” he said. “Those signs will be posted all along the back property lines. It’s not a one-time pass – ‘it was a mistake’ – the signs will be very clear, very consistent, and we will remove people permanently from our guests lists for the future.”
Kendra Patrick, with Line and Grade Civil Engineering, the engineering firm working with the property owner, said the proposed new 68 sites would be added to the back of the property, which is mostly forested now.
“That’s the intention for these news sites, that they’ll remain unseen, tucked into the woods,” she said. “We plan to get an actual ground survey of the trees so that we can design around them and try to preserve as many as possible.”
Jessica Beverage, who previously helped at the campground, said she was concerned about water and sewer at the park. She said there have been prior issues with the septic drainage field and campers not having enough water.
“There’s multiple times throughout the week that the septic truck has to pull waste off the property because the septic field can’t handle it,” she said. “Last year, multiple times, they had to bring water in just to have enough potable water for people to use in their RVs at their campsite to take showers. There were at least three times when I was there that there was just no water and people had to wait and not fill up.”
Baldwin said they are drilling two new permitted wells and are working to fix the septic issues that he said he “absolutely inherited” and is “absolutely aware of.”
“We hope to be able to fix any and all of those issues because certainly we don’t want to expand the park if that isn’t adequate to keep up with it, and we certainly are addressing the current issues,” he said.
The application narrative says that the owners will apply for a central sewer system, but it was unclear Tuesday if that application had been submitted.
Property owners east of the campground also said they wanted some kind of fencing and were also concerned about addressing noise issues.
“I think the quickest and shortest route to addressing an issue, if it happens, is me or my staff,” Baldwin said. “I will have my staff cell phones shared with you. In the event of any violation, we want to know about it immediately so that we can address it immediately.”
He said he wants to see the campground from neighbors’ perspectives.
“I would be happy to come over to your house, if you’d allow it, and see from your perspective,” Baldwin said. “I’d love for you to meet the park managers and we want to be good neighbors. We want to be an asset to the community. We’re not here to disrupt or further disrupt the situation. We want to make it better.”
Public hearings before the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for the expansion are yet to be scheduled.