The plan to put a proposed waterpark in Chincoteague Island drew a heated response from some residents worried the facility would sully their community.
The Chincoteague planning commission met Tuesday, Jan. 10, to hear from town residents both against and in support of a proposed waterpark, which includes 35-foot waterslides, in Maddox Family Campground. The proposed waterpark would be built near the entrance to the campground and run parallel to Maddox Boulevard.
Louisa Flaningam and Paul Brzozowski spoke against the waterpark's “visual and aesthetic impact” and produced images that they had taken at Jolly Roger’s Splash Mountain waterpark in Ocean City that they felt was indicative of the design of the proposed Chincoteague waterpark.
“This is the road that all of the people that come to this island — the thousands of people every year, many who come year after year, many who have been coming for generations — this is the road out to Assateague,” said Flaningam. “And why are they going to Assateague? They’re going to a national seashore. National seashores are not Ocean City.”
Susan Norris vehemently voiced her concerns about the park near the close of the public hearing.
“If you want to go raise hell, go to Atlantic City,” said Norris. “We have a very good waterpark. It’s called Assateague beach.”
While many people questioned what they felt was a lack of detail presented to the public or spoke outright against the proposed waterpark, a few voiced their support.
“They said they would come here and offer more festivities and more resources and more jobs,” said Dean Orsino. “Now they’re here to do it and we’re pushing them around. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t follow the letter of the law absolutely, but we need to tell them how to do it not what they can’t do.”
Sheila Conner presented the planning commission with a petition signed by 85 local residents in support of the waterpark, but did not speak further on the issue.
The Chincoteague planning commission did not make a recommendation to the Town Council but instead scheduled a meeting and workshop for Tuesday, Jan. 17, during which a formal presentation will be given by the Burbage family and Oceanside Resort LLC, and the commission will further discuss the issue and make a recommendation.
The meeting is open to the public, but there will be no time for public comment at that meeting.
A formal presentation was not made at the Jan. 10 meeting due to the nature of the meeting and time constraints, but John P. Custis, who represents Oceanside Resort LLC, a subsidiary of the Blue Water Development Corporation, did speak briefly.
“With respect to the application, just as a summary, we’ve supplied some proposed building plans, a boundary survey of the entire campground, a site plan, a sanitary sewer collection and on-site disposal plan, as well as a storm water management and erosion sediment control plan,” said Custis. “All of those plans are very detailed. They are in compliance with Virginia Department of Health standards. They are also in compliance with a number of the zoning ordinance requirements here."
The waterpark will conform to the standards and provisions of the C-4 zoning district, in which the land lies, with the exception of the waterslides, said Custis.
The proposed waterslides are 35 feet tall from the platform and are in compliance with the town’s zoning ordinance, which states that no structure may be erected above 36 feet in height. However, safety features like rails and sunshades will increase that height by 8 feet for a total of 43 feet. Additionally, the proposed fencing is 6 feet tall and the zoning ordinance allows for maximum height of 4 feet.
Kenny Lewis, building and zoning administrator, said there are two options to get around these ordinances. The group can approach the Board of Zoning appeals for a variance request or the mayor and Town Council can make an exception for the project under conditional use permit regulations.
Todd Burbage and the Blue Water Development Corporation are no strangers to contention over proposed projects.
The real estate company owns properties up and down Delmarva and recently purchased Pine Shores Golf Course on Route 611 in Berlin with the intention of turning the property into a campground and waterpark. Members of the public pushed back during a December public hearing.