CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (Delmarva Now) -- A crowd braved a torrential downpour to attend a joint meeting of the Chincoteague Town Council and Planning Commission on Thursday, September 29 as they heard a presentation from representatives of Blue Water Development Corporation, owned by Jack and Todd Burbage of Berlin, Maryland, regarding a proposed waterpark at Maddox Family Campground.
The company also owns the Fairfield Inn and Suites and The Jackspot restaurant on Chincoteague and Sunset Beach Resort in Cape Charles.
The public was not permitted to speak during the meeting.
The proposed waterpark would be 2.5 acres with an associated parking allotment of 1.65 acres within the approximately 200 acres of land upon which the campground sits and would have a 1,200 person capacity. A new parking lot would offer 155 parking spaces. The proposed closing time for the park is 6 p.m. According to Todd Burbage, the company sought to minimize impact when designing the park and only 12 trees would be cut down during construction. Burbage also pointed out that despite rumors there would be no wetland disturbed.
The meeting, according to Mayor Arthur Leonard, was to promote transparency.
“We want information about this park. Otherwise, what we’re dealing with is a lot of misinformation,” said Leonard.
Confusion over current zoning regulations and concern for the project has led to public outcry. The area in which the developers wish to build the waterpark lies within a C-4 zone and requires a conditional use permit that would subject the project to rigorous review. The company had submitted a conditional use permit application to the town on May 24 but withdrew the application two weeks later.
Kenny Lewis, Building and Zoning Administrator, pointed out that no application has been submitted to the town, yet.
“Right now, I’m like the public. I have no concept of what’s going on. Documents have been given to other people but not to my office. So, we need to start doing it right,” said Lewis.
“Get it on my desk so it can be properly reviewed and then we move forward,” he said, addressing Burbage.
Currently, C-4 Resort Commercial lists 41 uses by right, with the primary purpose of the zone being to encourage resort commercial uses, campground facilities and projects that would promote improvements to the local economy, according to the zone’s statement of intent found in the town’s zoning ordinances.
The Burbages maintain that the current zoning regulations contain error and that the C-4 zone is supposed to be the most liberating and encompassing of all of the zones.
However, some members of the town council disagree.
“It’s not in there; I don’t see it being changed,” said Councilman Gene Wayne Taylor.
“For those of you wondering about the zoning issue, Todd thinks that it was a mistake or overlooked. However, it is what it is,” said Denise Bowden, Vice Mayor. “I specifically told him that there was no way that I could vote for a change in the zoning to accommodate this project. However, when the zoning things get reviewed again, if it comes up again, then that’s the place to talk about it.”
“It’s a process,” said Arthur Leonard. “That’s why we’re here.”
According to Todd Burbage, the reason the company decided to build a waterpark is because it’s becoming a national trend in the campground industry. Under Burbage's proposal the nearly $6 million project would happen in two phases, although he said he is not willing to submit a conditional use application for each phase.
"I think it should either be approved up or down,” said Burbage. “Either we want it or we don’t want it.”
However, Burbage said that he’s happy to submit a conditional use permit, now, for both phases.
“I’m happy to go that route. I’m happy to go through this process and do whatever it takes,” said Burbage. “The town of Chincoteague is very important to me. We can go somewhere else and invest our money but we like Chincoteague."