Campgrounds Recreational Vehicle Parks and Planned Rural Recreational Resorts in the Zoning Ordinance
In 2006, a corporation owned by two national development interests acquired a historic resort property in northern Rockingham County, Virginia that had hosted visitors to a campground and scenic cavern for more than a century.
The 270-acre property at the end of a one-lane secondary road was surrounded by some of Virginia.s most productive dairy and beef cattle farms and buffered by the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest on Massanutten Mountain.
The new owners proposed to replace the sleepy campground's 25 modern recreational vehicle sites and 75 rustic camping spaces with a 21st century "RV Resort." Initial plans called for the "RV Resort" to include spaces for 450 recreational vehicles, a water park, 36 holes of mini golf, a whiskey distillery, a fake "gem mine," and an amphitheatre that would host events for over a thousand day visitors.
Because the Rockingham County zoning ordinance, written in the 1980s, permitted "campgrounds" as a by right use in the property's agricultural zoning, the owners claimed they could put as many RV sites on the property as they wanted and any associated uses they saw fit. As Rockingham County reviews the RV resort proposal, county staff also plans to update their ordinance deals with campgrounds.
In response, the Shenandoah Valley Network (SVN) commissioned the Jennings Gap Partnership to research zoning options used by localities in Virginia and across the nation to govern campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks, and planned rural resorts.
We reviewed dozens of local and state ordinances and codes, consulted with recreational vehicle industry groups and their web sites, and researched other publications to learn ways Shenandoah Valley localities can ensure that new facilities catering to recreational vehicles will benefit the communities in which they are sited.
The consensus appears to be that there is a growing demand for recreational vehicle parks nationally and that this demand has not been met in the Shenandoah Valley. Another new recreational vehicle park has been proposed in the Valley in 2007 and more are anticipated.
Because the largest of these recreational vehicle resorts is proposed in Rockingham County, SVN asked the Jennings Gap Partnership to draft a model ordinance for campgrounds, recreational vehicles, and related developments that might be helpful as Rockingham County considers how to deal with similar proposals in the future.
The results of this research including a draft ordinance and excerpts from many of the relevant source documents are included in this report.
It is our hope that this information will be helpful not just to Rockingham County but to localities throughout the Shenandoah Valley and the Commonwealth. The intention is not to substitute SVN.s opinions for the expertise county officials. Our goal is to provide a resource, as few planning and zoning officials in the Valley have time in their busy schedules to conduct research and fully explore every issue that faces them.
- Draft Ordinance (PDF)
Copyright © Shenandoah Valley Network 2013