Preliminary plans for KOA campground in Great Cacapon submitted to county – The Morgan Messenger
by Kate Shunney
A development company has asked Morgan County planners to revise their plans for a 48-acre, 173-site campground just east of Great Cacapon below the Panorama Overlook.
In a 63-page preliminary submission to the Morgan County Planning Office, the developer’s engineers outlined their construction and infrastructure plans for what they call the “Berkeley Springs KOA.” KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America, a brand of over 500 private campgrounds across the United States
Based on preliminary campground plans and bills, he expects construction of the Great Cacapon project to take approximately eight months once plans are approved and construction begins.
Greenway Engineering of Winchester, Va. prepared the preliminary plans and is the engineer of record for the project.
The proposed project is an RV campground at 4624 Cacapon Road on the former Noland Farm, which Bills and his wife purchased in 2018.
The property is bounded to the north by the CSX railroad and to the west by the Cacapon River.
Campground plans include 60 RV sites, 85 RV sites, 16 cabins, eight yurts, and four tents.
“The new campground will consist of a ring road model campground with a series of one-way and two-way roads,” the project summary states. “Campsites are considered ‘oversized’ and will feature a mix of finishes including patios, fire pits, picnic tables.”
“The campground will include basic operational facilities including a registration/office building and a maintenance building. Facilities will include a swimming pool, bathhouse, mini-golf, multi-purpose sports court, large fire pit, 3 multi-age play areas, fenced dog parks (Kamp K-9 sites), truck area restoration and several pavilions.
“The site will have staging areas in front of the office to facilitate check-ins, a roundabout and will have 148 parking spaces and 18 disabled spaces scattered throughout the community. Facilities to support electric vehicle (EV) charging are planned,” preliminary plans state.
Flat drawings show multiple views of the campground, including stormwater management facilities, water and sewer infrastructure, roads and parking lots, waste and recycling facilities, water wells. water and storage tanks and sewage pumping stations.
The Warm Springs Utility District has been approached to provide sewage treatment service to the campground adjacent to the existing Great Cacapon public sewer system. Some sort of sewer pipe connection should be installed between the village sewer system on the west side of the Cacapon River and the campground on the east side of the river. Public sewer officials are asking the developer for more detailed information about the plans.
Bills said the connection would likely involve horizontal drilling below the river to run a double-layer sewage pipe.
The printed plans propose a penstock sewer main, grinder sewer pumping station and an estimated daily flow of 24,580 gallons of sewage per day when the full 241 site development is built.
A Phase 2 campground could add an additional 68 units.
The plans also show sketches of a 33,820 gallon water storage tank that is 26 feet high and 15 feet in diameter. Wells are the proposed water source for the campground. Bills said two wells have already been drilled and can supply the water needed for the project.
The main entrance to the KOA Campground is proposed west of an existing barn building.
Bills said in discussions with the Highways Division, engineers have proposed a deceleration lane that would allow RVs to slow down and exit the main Cacapon Road lane as they prepare to enter the terrain of camping.
Plans also show that the wooded areas west of the campground loop would remain intact, and extensive landscaping and tree planting would protect the Cacapon Road campground.
County planner and GIS director Alex Moore said last week that county consulting engineers will review preliminary plans to see if they meet county subdivision and floodplain ordinances.
The plans will not be presented to the county planning commission until a long list of permits has been finalized. These include a highway access permit from the Division of Highways (DOH), wells and septic systems from the Department of Health, a National Waste Disposal System permit pollutants (NPDES) for stormwater management and any US Army Corps of Engineers permits for wetland disturbance.
Bills said he didn’t buy the Noland farm with the idea of creating a campground. His family already had a vacation home in Berkeley Springs for their own enjoyment, and they had gotten to know the area.
After buying the Great Cacapon property, Bills said he started thinking about the lack of camping facilities in the county. This aligned with his personal interests in outdoor recreation and his experience as an entrepreneur. So he started researching options to design and manage a campground. A third-party feasibility study confirmed his feeling that a campground would succeed here.
Bills said he contacted KOA about their franchise options and liked their “standards-driven” approach to running campgrounds with a certain level of amenities.
“It’s a recipe and it’s a good one,” Bills said. “They succeed and we will succeed with their help.”
Bills thinks a KOA campground will be a good “home base” for RV campers to stay for several days or a week to explore Morgan County and the surrounding area.
“People come to Berkeley Springs as a destination,” he said.
Partnering with other local businesses is a priority for Bills, he said. He wants to attract other entrepreneurs to bring food, arts experiences, recreation options and services to campers.
“There will probably be repercussions from other things,” he said. “There will be plenty of opportunities to build on that.”
Bills said a lot of time was spent “thinking about the design” of the proposed campground, so that it blends in with the natural environment and encourages campers to connect as a family and then explore the area. .
“We tried to design the campground where people will want to stay five or ten years from now,” he said. “We’re trying to put together something that the community will be proud of.”
A public review of the campground plans will be presented to the Morgan County Planning Commission once the required permits have been obtained.