Moscow Zoning Board Says No To “glamping” Campground

November 13, 2018

Local and out-of-town tourists alike seeking a luxury camping experience will have to look farther than Moscow.

That’s because a recent decision by the borough’s zoning hearing board bars a Moscow land owner from opening and operating a high-end camping business in a single-family residential zone.The decision

, signed by board members Daniel Kopcza, Aaron Pickarski and Lisa Notarianni, came after the board finished hearing testimony in September on an application by Sam’s Land LLC to offer “glamping” — upscale camping in 10 tents erected on wooden platforms — on a property zoned R-1 along McAndrews Road.

The property is owned by Sam’s Land and houses the Lake Hideaway recreation area, where more rustic camping has been allowed for decades. It’s also located near the Harmony Hills housing development. Several residents living near the proposed glamping site spoke in opposition to the development at the September hearing.

Ultimately the board denied the company’s request for a special exception allowing tent sites in the R-1 district, and its request for a variance to operate a campground there. Because of credible evidence showing there has been camping at Lake Hideaway since at least 1986, the board granted a nonconforming use certificate for camping, but not tent sites. The certificate allows camping in a limited capacity but not the glamping that Sam’s Land proposed.

For example, the certificate does not allow dedicated campsites, a separate water supply, a separate bathhouse or a separate electrical supply on the property.

It applies to Lake Hideaway members and invited guests only, and limits camping to two weekends per summer.

Sam’s Land also challenged the validity of Moscow’s zoning ordinance. While the ordinance allows campgrounds as a special exception in the borough’s S-1 zone, the company argued that problems with the zone prevent one from actually being placed there. The board rejected that argument, writing in its decision that it “has not heard credible testimony as to why campgrounds would be prohibited in the S-1 Zone.”

Sam’s Land is owned by Samantha Hoban. Her husband, Michael Hoban, owns Lake Hideaway Camp, the company that operates Lake Hideaway. Efforts to reach the Hobans were unsuccessful. Efforts to reach attorney Matthew Barrett, the attorney who represented Sam’s Land in the zoning dispute, also were unsuccessful.

Sam’s Land has not yet notified the borough if it intends to appeal the board’s decision, Moscow Zoning Officer David Lamm said.

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