Company Behind Proposed “glamping” Business In Moscow Appealing Zoning Denial

February 14, 2019

A company hoping to run a luxury camping business in Moscow isn’t going down without a fight. After hearing hours of testimony over the course of three days last year, the Moscow Zoning Hearing Board in late October issued a decision barring Sam’s Land LLC from offering “glamping” — upscale camping in 10 tents erected on wooden platforms — on a 42-acre parcel located along McAndrews Road in a single-family residential zone. Sam’s Land owns the property, which houses the Lake Hideaway recreation area, where more rustic camping has been allowed for decades. Weeks after the board’s decision, Sam’s Land filed an appeal in Lackawanna County Court challenging the ruling. A hearing date has yet to be set, said Matt Barrett, an attorney representing Sam’s Land. In its ruling signed Oct. 30, the zoning hearing board denied Sam’s Land request for a special exception allowing glamping tent sites in the residential district and its request for a variance to operate a campground on the property. It did grant a nonconforming use certificate for camping, but not tent sites, citing credible evidence that camping has occurred at Lake Hideaway since at least 1986. The certificate limits camping to two weekends per summer and applies only to Lake Hideaway members and guests. It does not permit dedicated campsites or a separate bathhouse, electric supply or water supply on the property — meaning it doesn’t permit the glamping Sam’s Land proposed. Among the many arguments in its appeal, Sam’s Land contends the restrictions the board placed on its use of the property are “unlawful and unconstitutional.” It also argues the proposed glamping tents are “sufficiently similar” to the camping that has occurred at Lake Hideaway in the past, and therefore should be permitted. The board erred in finding Moscow’s zoning ordinance does not, in effect, exclude campgrounds, as there is no available land within the S-1 zone where campgrounds are technically permitted for one to actually be placed, Sam’s Land further argues. The board’s decision is “prejudicial, unlawful and unconstitutional” because it denies Sam’s Land its “lawful use of its land,” among other reasons, per the appeal. Efforts to reach Sam’s Land owner Samantha Hoban and her husband, Michael Hoban, who owns Lake Hideaway Camp, the company that operates Lake Hideaway, were unsuccessful. Contact the writer: jhorvath@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter