Worcester County Commissioners (Maryland) have unanimously approved a growth allocation request, marking a pivotal step in the expansion of Island Resort Campground in Newark.
As per a report, the decision reclassifies 33 acres from a Resource Conservation Area (RCA) to a Limited Development Area (LDA).
The campground, which opened in 2005 on land previously used as a surface mine, faced zoning changes in 2009 that rendered it a legal non-conforming use. The recent approval, as outlined by attorney Mark Cropper, will allow the addition of 62 new campsites, significantly increasing the campground’s capacity and bolstering the local outdoor hospitality sector.
David Bradford, the county’s deputy director of environmental programs, supported the expansion, noting its compatibility with the existing campground.
The expansion utilizes 33 of the county’s 369 available growth allocation acres in the Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area Program. This judicious use of growth allocation underscores the county’s commitment to balanced development, preserving natural resources while fostering tourism and recreation.
Despite the plan’s alignment with the county’s comprehensive plan, it has met with some opposition. During a public hearing, resident Stephen Katsanos raised concerns about zoning, habitat and water quality improvements, and potential impacts on Newport Bay’s water quality. These concerns reflect the ongoing need for responsible development that balances growth with environmental stewardship.
Addressing traffic concerns raised by residents Judy and Brian Wilbur, the proposal suggests a separate entrance for the campground on Route 113. This consideration of local infrastructure and safety is a key aspect of sustainable campground development, ensuring minimal disruption to existing communities.
Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs, and Bradford addressed environmental concerns, highlighting the minimal agricultural significance of the site and the comprehensive environmental safeguards in place. The planned tree planting, stormwater management, and forest conservation efforts demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility, a core value in the outdoor hospitality industry.
The recent wetlands delineation, identifying sensitive areas on the property, further illustrates the thorough and considerate planning behind the expansion. This approach serves as a model for other campground and outdoor hospitality operators, emphasizing the importance of environmental due diligence in expansion projects.
Bradford’s remark on the county’s sparing use of growth allocation — only 75 acres in the past 20 years — reflects a cautious and strategic approach to development. This prudent management of resources ensures that growth is sustainable and beneficial to the county in the long term.
The unanimous vote by the commissioners to approve the growth allocation request is a testament to the project’s sound planning and alignment with county objectives. It marks a significant advancement for the campground and outdoor recreation industry in Worcester County, setting a precedent for future developments.