The City of Newberry took another step toward promoting the sports tourism industry by approving a Special Exception application that will allow a luxury RV resort to be built across from the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex.
The resort plans are for 850 units of overnight accommodations and include amenities such as a pool, clubhouse, pickleball courts, two-bedroom rental cabins, and a splash park.
David McDaniel of M3 Development presented the concept on behalf of Owner Marie Ratliff to the Planning and Zoning Board on Dec. 7th. The special exception allows for the resort to set up camp on 94 acres located at 2120 NW State Road 45. The parcel is in the Agricultural Zoning District within the City limits.
Newberry Director of Planning and Development Bryan Thomas recommended approval of the special exception with conditions that include a 50-foot buffer between the resort and adjacent properties.
“Having gone through those very carefully,” Thomas said about the developer’s plan to follow Newberry’s strict codes, “The applicant has met and exceeded requirements addressed in the justification report.”
McDaniel said the preliminary name for the resort is Treehouse Village RV Resort. He said the name could change, but it is inspired by the 7 acres of hardwood trees canopy on the property. Part of the development plan includes building structures in the trees to create unique spaces such as gazebos connected by suspension bridges.
M3 Development has been working in Newberry for six years and completed one residential housing subdivision and is currently constructing another. McDaniel said there are more development plans “in the pipeline.”
Matt McDaniel of M3 said the development will benefit Newberry because it will be a high end resort with the best in class amenities that will serve as magnets to draw people into the community. M3 hired a 30-year veteran rv resort architect to help plan the development.
The developers told the Planning and Zoning Board members that the resort would benefit Newberry by increasing demand for local goods and services, increasing property tax and gas tax income, serving as a support to existing sports tourism and as a magnet for new visitors.
Two property owners adjacent to the development spoke against the idea. Tracy Morris’ property would be surrounded by the resort and she said the increase in traffic and noise would negatively affect her and her family and the resort would negatively impact the value of her home.
A Newberry Hills resident expressed concern about the amount of traffic the resort would bring and said it was already dangerous driving out of the sports complex. She had questions about noise abatement, environmental concerns such as wildlife preservation and wanted more information on stormwater treatment possibly being offset with an artificial wetland.
Board Member and former Mayor Bill Conrad acknowledged that Newberry has been on track to accommodate sports tourism and a hotel or type of temporary housing accommodation has always been part of that plan as thousands of people come to Newberry to take part in activities at the archery complex, Champions Park baseball tournaments and equestrian competitions.
Conrad recommended to expand the number of park models allowed from 10 percent to 20 percent and a limit of 180 days of occupancy for the site instead of the current allowed 270 days.
Board Member Gavin Johnson said he didn’t think approving the exception was, “The right move for growth in our community.” He was concerned about the length of stay also.
Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe addressed the Board saying that Newberry set out a vision for supporting Sports Tourism and that the proposed location of the RV resort was ideally located near the future county fairgrounds, archery complex and baseball park and it is close enough to connect to City water and sewer.
“Something will go there eventually,” Marlowe said. “Pick what you want around you. Something is coming.”
Conrad motioned to send forward a recommendation for approval for the exception and included the extended the length of stay from 90 days to 180 days and an expansion of the park model from 10 to 20 percent density.
The motion passed with Board Members Conrad, Naim Erched and Linda Woodcock voting in favor.
The decision will move the developer’s application forward to the Board of Adjustments for consideration.