The full plans for a 60-unit recreational vehicle park were presented to the Cambridge Selectboard at its August 17 meeting. The park was planned for currently vacant land on Route 108 near Smugglers Notch, a report said.
Although the project was tentatively called Smugglers Notch RV Village, it will be constructed in an area known as “peregrines landing” along the Mountain Road. This has sparked intense speculation and concern on social networks, even though it was still in its infancy.
The project was first noticed when Vermont Land Design, a group that was hired to plan it, stopped by the Lamoille County planning commission as part of the larger process of completing regulations under Act 250. This is the state’s extensive and stringent land-use law.
The commission was unable to release a narrow comment about whether the RV park is compatible or not, so the select board requested that they wait until after a meeting with the planning commission.
The developer was revealed to be Berni Kuntzelmann, a long-time Jeffersonville resident, before a packed meeting at the Cambridge Fire Department.
Kuntzelmann began to develop and manage property in 2000. His involvement in the development of the Vermont Canoe, the Cambridge Greenway Trail, and Kayak on Lamoille River as well as the Jeffersonville Farmers Market was key.
Kuntzelmann purchased the 22-acres of land that he intends to convert into an RV Park in 2018. He saw lots being sold along the road and subdivided. Kuntzelmann wants to preserve the natural beauty of the region and decided that an RV park would be the best way to make use of it while also keeping it intact.
He said, “We believe it fits in the Cambridge town’s plan to promote small business and recreation tourism. It would not alter the topography or require any permanent structures and it would only be for a season. It will be self-sustaining, meaning it will not increase demand on the village’s water and sewer systems. My family and I are both well-versed in hospitality and it will provide a service we feel is missing in this area.”
The site would have electricity and Wi Fi, and there would be a small structure that could house showers and laundry facilities.
Wawrzeniak says that the site compact will be located 60 feet from the road. As much as possible, natural areas on the property will remain intact. Route 108 would be connected to an area for recreational vehicles registration via a paved area.
Wawrzeniak stressed the importance of RV parks having rules that prohibit excessive noise and other disturbances.
Kuntzelmann stated that the tennis court, which has been neglected for some time, could be resurfaced to be used as an entertainment area or pickleball court.
However, at the joint meeting, vocal members of the audience, mostly residents who live near the site of the RV park were concerned about the potential effects the project could have on traffic, the environment, and the quality of life.
Ruthanne Rust said, “I’m willing to have a side wager, over and under on how many attempt to go up through Notch with big rigs and don’t succeed,” referring to narrow turns along the road through Smugglers Notch.
Rust also mentioned general traffic, road degrading, and potential impact on an area’s aquifer as concerns.
Meanwhile, Kuntzelmann was supported by two key allies, despite some people not being supportive of the project.
Larry Wyckoff from Cambridge Selectboard was one of them. He claimed that he learned from informal conversations with local business owners that the community was generally supportive of the project.
Wyckoff claimed that an RV park in the area is compatible with the town plan. This is the fundamental question that the select board and planning commission must ask about the project. It also stated that Act 250 will allow for the neighbors to have their say and cover all other concerns.
While expressing his contempt for Act 250, he urged all concerned to see it from the perspective that there could be an alternative to an RV park.
It’s now up to April Edwards, chair of the planning commission, to convene an extraordinary meeting that will be open to all and announce soon. This special meeting will decide if the RV park, as it is currently planned, conflicts with the town’s plan.
The members of the commission indicated that they won’t be commenting on the regional planning commission’s current withheld judgment on how the park might compete with the regional plan.
The Cambridge Selectboard will review the decision of the planning commission and may make their own decision about how the project is integrated with the town plan.
However, the potential Smugglers Butch RV Village is still in the early stages. Regardless of whether the town and planning commission makes a decision, Kuntzelmann must complete the Act 250 process to determine if he can turn his vision into a reality, the report said.