The Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 15 delivered approval for construction of a proposed 50 cabins and a lodge at a future outdoor recreation resort.
Philip Samuels, owner of Survival Spring LLC, had sought a conditional use permit (CUP) to build the cabins at his 300-acre property on Eagles Nest Farm Road in northern Warren County. The property is southeast of Truxton.
Samuels first brought his proposal before the planning commission in July. He plans for Survival Spring to host activities such as camping, fishing, archery, hunting and private gatherings, according to his CUP application. He previously received approval for those activities in 2015, and now sought an amendment to allow the 50 cabins and lodge, as well as several small convenience stores for the resort.
The planning commission voted unanimously to approve Samuels’ CUP application at its Aug. 15 public meeting. However, there was a prolonged debate among commission members about what requirements to place on the CUP.
“This is a totally new application for us. There’s nothing like it in the county ... so we need to be very careful,” said commission member David Heinlein.
Heinlein expressed that the commission should set its stipulations based on what he described as a “worst-case scenario” for the county, which is that all of the rental cabins are full every day. In that case, he said the resort would be akin to a subdivision and should be regulated with some of the same standards.
Members of the planning commission discussed which of the county’s subdivision rules they should apply to the resort, spending much time on septic requirements. Under the county’s rules, large rural subdivisions are required to have either a central sewer system or individual septic systems on 3-acre lots.
Commission member Jeff Stassi observed that Samuels had previously said his largest cabin layout could be 2,000-square-foot, one-bedroom luxury cabins. Since each cabin of such size could potentially host many people, Stassi stated Samuels should be required to install a central sewer system connected to each cabin, rather than having individual septic systems that could be overloaded.
Stassi also suggested that cabin sizes should be limited to something smaller than 2,000 square feet, for fear that Survival Spring would be tempted to violate a 400-guest cap that is already in effect at the property.
Samuels and attorney Tony Soukenik interjected, saying that a central sewer system is not feasible for cabins that will be spread across a 300-acre property.
County attorney Mark Vincent chastised the two for interrupting, because public comment on the CUP had already been closed. However, Vincent advised the planning commission that they shouldn’t place any restrictions that could be considered “arbitrary and capricious,” such as for the size of cabins. He recommended allowing Samuels the option to install individual septic systems.
Commission member Doug Walters commented that Samuels and Survival Spring will be naturally motivated to self-regulate septic problems.
“If they have problems with the septic or the sewer ... they’re going to have to take care of it. If they don’t their business will suffer, because nobody will want to come,” Walters said.
After nearly an hour of discussion, the CUP for the Survival Spring cabin development was approved 6-0 with two commission members absent. The commission allowed for cabins to have individual septic systems as long as they match the requirements for county subdivisions.
Additionally, all cabins must be accessible for emergency vehicles, must be affixed to a permanent foundation, and must have permanent utilities.