While one side envisions covered wagons, teepees, and tents with plush, king-sized beds, others fear an inevitable ecological nightmare.
According to a report, the Riverbend Glamping Getaway (Montana) project has brought together scores of residents and environmental groups against a Bozeman couple, Jeff and Jirina Pfeil, who claim that they’ve fulfilled all legal requirements for constructing their glamping facility despite the fact that the property is within a designated flood plain.
The couple is moving forward with plans to open the resort a year from now.
The glampground, located on a small island in Gallatin Gateway between two channels of the Gallatin River, would feature 58 campsites with tents, wagons, and teepees decked out with bedding, and other creature comforts to provide a luxurious camping experience to guests. The site would also have bathrooms in every tent.
Sean O’Callaghan, chief planning officer of the Gallatin County Department of Planning and Community Development, responsible for permitting projects located in the county’s floodplain, ruled in November that Pfeils could proceed.
“I found after reviewing all of the information, including public comment that was within the scope of the floodplain regulations, that the project ultimately met the regulatory requirements,” O’Callaghan said.
However, some organizations, such as American Rivers and Trout Unlimited and neighbors who have formed an ad-hoc group called Protect the Gallatin River, are appealing against the decision.
The Gallatin County Commission will consider some of the arguments during a meeting on April 8.
“I think it’s a totally sketchy project from a public health and safety standpoint, from an economic standpoint,” said Scott Bosse, Northern Rockies director for American Rivers. “I just don’t think there’s going to be a demand by well-heeled tourists to spend hundreds of dollars a night to camp next to Gallatin Gateway. Of course, those tourists have no idea about the risk of flooding in that area.”
Bosse, who has been in the Bozeman area for nearly two decades, believes that building on a floodplain is like pitching a tent on the interstate when cars aren’t coming. “It looks safe for now, but are you going to move your tent every time a car or truck comes down the interstate?
“We all know it’s a really bad idea, but there’s kind of a loophole in our floodplain regs. There’s no explicit prohibition on building a glampground in a floodplain or a floodway.”
Jeff Pfeil, who owned Bozeman Tree, Lawn, and Pest for 22 years prior to closing the business in December to concentrate on the glamping venture, claims he will be able to move Conestoga wagons, teepees, and tents with enough time to avoid disaster should the water begin to rise.
He estimates that he would have a minimum of 24 hours and possibly as long as 72 hours to clear out, which his opponents disagree with.
Pfeil claimed he formulated an evacuation plan with a consulting firm and believes that the whole situation could be evacuated in less than a few hours.
This story originally appeared on Montana Free Press.