A 176-space RV campground could be coming to south Bend at the corner of U.S. Highway 97 and Murphy Road, but city planners are recommending the proposed project be denied for a variety of reasons.
The proposed project, which spans roughly 21 acres, includes a community center and office building, as well as recreational facilities.
The proposal also includes a recreational vehicle storage facility consisting of six buildings, and close to 45,000 square feet of ministorage in seven buildings, according to city documents.
On Tuesday, the RV campground proposal, which has been several months in the making, went before a public hearings officer, who will approve or deny it.
Larry Kine, owner of Kine & Kine Properties and former owner of the Crown Villa RV Park, said Tuesday he believes the campground will make a positive economic impact to Bend, attracting roughly 35,000 people a year to the area.
And when it is not peak tourism season, Kine said the campground becomes affordable housing for people who already live in RVs and need a place to park.
But city planners recommended denial of the project for a number of reasons, but the most central reason involves the creation of roundabouts.
The project doesn’t generate enough traffic to require the developer to build roundabouts at the intersections of Murphy Road and a new street that will be built that is now referred to as “frontage road” and another at the intersection of the “frontage road” and another future road referred to as “B Street.”
Roundabouts will need to be built in the future when this area further builds out, Colin Stephens, the city’s planning manager, said in an email.
“The applicant is proposing to put buildings into the footprint of the future roundabouts,” Stephens said. “The city asked him to move the buildings, which is required by the code, and the applicant has not done so.”
With enough unknown variables, city staff wrote it couldn’t definitively say whether a roundabout could fit in the existing right of way, or whether the project met a section of the city’s code or not, said Sara Anselment, a planner with the city, at the hearing Tuesday. The city would require the developer to pay $276,854 out of the total cost of $2 million toward roundabout improvement at the frontage road and Murphy Road, according to city documents.
“While the applicant isn’t required to build the roundabout at Murphy and the frontage road, they must contribute their fair share to the construction of the future roundabout. This is called a proportionate share contribution,” Stephens said.
The city also argues the plan for tree removal is too vague, and doesn’t do enough to show how many trees are proposed to be removed. Another issue involves an existing swale, which is a basin designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.
But Chris Koback, who represents the developer Kine, said it’s not equitable for the city to take money from his client now when the amount of development it would take to trigger improvements won’t happen until possibly many years into the future.
In addition, a roundabout would not conflict with the project, and could be built within the right of way that exists in the current plans, Koback said.
“That roundabout, if it’s built, is going to be long out in the future,” Koback said. “It’s not the applicant’s responsibility to account for that.”
Koback also argued it would be possible to expand that existing stormwater swale to the east, which would not conflict with the intersection.
As for trees, Kine said he wants to keep as many trees as possible, as nature is part of the attraction.
“These people are campers. They want to enjoy the great outdoors,” he said.
Koback said a more specific plan for trees has not been submitted because it is hard to know which will need to be removed until they have a plan on how to build utilities.
But Anselment said she has reviewed several plans with a high degree of accuracy at this stage in the application process, calling it “tedious but it’s worth it.”
Public input can be submitted via email by Tuesday, May 18.