By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Oct. 20 — If rezoning and special use permit applications are approved by county supervisors, Outlanders River Camp could nearly double in acreage and add more than four times the current lodging options it offers just off Route 211 a few miles west of Luray.
Outlanders’ owner Yvonne Berezoski and potential purchaser Blue Water Development Corporation want to rezone a 43-acre parcel and a 3-acre parcel from residential to agricultural use in order to support a $30 million expansion to the existing operation. Campgrounds are only allowed in Page County within agricultural zones with an approved special use permit.
On Tuesday night, the Page County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to advertise the applications for joint public hearings with the Page County Planning Commission on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Two hearings will be held — one on the rezoning request to change the two parcels from residential to agricultural use, and a second hearing on the special use permit for the campground expansion.
The planned expansion would add a total of 81 acres to the current 100-acre retreat featuring nearly a mile of frontage along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Some of the proposed expansion property is already zoned agricultural, while 9.9 acres would remain zoned for commercial use. The campground expansion would offer an additional 59 “safari/glamping” sites, 80 cabins and 153 RV sites, according to a report Tuesday night by Page County Zoning Administrator Tracy Clatterbuck. A map on Outlander’s website currently shows about 28 camp sites, 40 RV sites, 18 primitive camp sites and only three cabins. The county granted a special use permit for the existing campground on Feb. 19, 2008.
“We’re pretty excited about this project,” Clatterbuck told supervisors, noting the need for additional lodging options to support growing tourism. “The county’s comprehensive plan supports this application…there shouldn’t be many issues with it.”
One concern that supervisors voiced was the preservation of a circa 1743 home — considered “one of the oldest in the county” — that sits on the 3-acre parcel that is under consideration for rezoning. Supervisors asked that the home either be relocated or incorporated into the campground — but not torn down.
Blue Water Development Corporation, based in Ocean City, Md., stated in an Oct. 5 letter to the county, that they enter this potential acquisition with every intention of being a good corporate neighbor.
“With an investment expected to be more than $30 million, we aim to build upon Page County’s beauty and excitement with our development plans at the Outlanders River Camp. Ms. Berezoski provides a venue sought after by many and we are committed to continuing her years of guest enjoyment and community support…the Outlanders property is one our team is committed to add…,” the letter reads.
To date, Blue Water owns six campgrounds, 12 hotels and three attractions, with properties in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire, according to its website. Blue Water has been “creating elite assets and exceeding guest expectations” since 2007.
“Blue Water has been successful in property hotel, campground, recreational attractions and residential property development by focusing on local community support and tourism. We spend a lot of time with owners, neighbors, area residents and business leaders to discover each property’s unique attributes and values so we can go to work making enhancements both guests and the local community will support and enjoy,” the letter to the county reads.
“Rather than bring in large firms to partner with us as we progress through the property acquisition and development phase, we stand behind our family beliefs that the local community is where we invest and grow relationships…,” the letter continues.”Blue Water is not just committed to meet local codes and regulations required to proceed with this effort, we will strive to exceed these expectations as we believe smart growth is the controlling element of success for this property and Page County.”
The project is projected to bring in more than $520,000 in Transiency Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds annually, along with more than $180,000 in real estate taxes.