An RV and camping resort planned on Riverside Gardens property cleared a hurdle Wednesday, when the Montrose County commissioners approved a special use permit.

The permit allows owners David Coker and John Reams (Hempton Land Holdings LLC) to develop and operate the RV campground in an area zoned for general agriculture and the county master plan itself allows for special use permits to be issued for campgrounds in general ag.

“With the shortage of convenient, accessible and attractive RV locations around the area, Riverside has decided to create and RV and campsite close to town, near shopping, dining and recreational facilities,” the applicants’ letter states.

The planned camping and RV resort at 62951 LaSalle Road would be built on 8 acres in two phases, the first of which entails 21 full-service RV sites, with excavation work to install infrastructure expected to be done this year. The second phase is for 21 tent sites with primitive electrical and water service. Future plans are for a bath house with showers, toilets, sinks and a laundry.

The owners plan to offer fishing, river front access, a “lazy river” feature, picnic tables/grills, a kiddie playground and a small retail shop for basics. They estimate hosting up to 100 people at a time, based on 2.5 people per site when the campground is full, and seven-day average stay. Riverside “does not anticipate permanent-stay (RVs and camping) but may make room at a later date with the acquisition of additional coverage,” according to application documents.

Riverside RV Resort will be behind Riverside Gardens, which will continue to operate as a nursery and is to maintain safe parking for customers.

Commissioner Sue Hansen expressed concerns about the Uncompahgre River and its lure to children who will be staying at Riverside RV Resort. “The one thing we didn’t talk about was safety with regard to the river, so if you had small kids that were in the campground, and the proximity to the river, does that enter into any consideration?” she asked Montrose County Planner Tallmadge Richmond, who presented the application with the county planning commission’s recommendation for approval Wednesday.

The nearest RV site to the Uncompahgre River is 250 feet away, he said. In the past, similar applications have included the requirement for a fence or barrier, which county commissioners could add as a condition, Richmond said.

“The riverside going into that is a part of the attraction for fishing and different things. A fence would really take that attraction away,” Reams later told Hansen and Commissioner Keith Caddy, asking them to take that into consideration.

Hansen wanted to know whether there would be a place near the river where people could safely stand. The slope into the river is abrupt: there is a bank, and then, a drop to the water.

Caddy said he wouldn’t have an issue if that situation was addressed by laying the bank back to a safer grade that enabled people to walk safely to the water. Reams indicated that wouldn’t be a problem and Hansen later said the county could seek to revise the special use permit if some kind of imminent danger cropped up.

Richmond said the nursery and single-family home on the property are grandfathered into the zoning.

The property has exterior and interior driveways that mean RVs won’t have to back in or out, however, the driveway needs aligned because it now comes onto LaSalle at an “awkward” spot that makes turning out unsafe. This is being addressed and one of the conditions of the use permit is an updated access permit that must be obtained before operations can begin.

Planning department staff found that when properly mitigated, the campground will be consistent with intent of the master plan and that the site plan conforms to development standards of general ag zoning.

Its location toward the back of the property makes for an adequate buffer between neighboring properties. Also, the facility is of the sort that usually has a positive economic impact for the owner, vendors and service community.

The special use permit runs with land. The owners must comply with state, federal and local regulations, plus obtain all necessary permits. The county planning department will inspect the site to verify compliance with all approved plans.

The applicants also have to furnish a record of an approved water source for commercial use from Menoken Water District. Other conditions pertain to trash, exterior lighting, quiet hours, information to users about the permit conditions, fire suppression devices and parking for the greenhouse customers.

“It looks like a good project and something we need in the community,” Hansen said.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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