By RICK REMSNYDER
The Gardiner Town Board approved Lazy River Resort’s application to establish a Campground Floating District (CFD) that will allow expansion at the popular Gardiner campground.
The board’s 4-1 vote to establish a CFD and issue a special use permit to Lazy River came at its March 7 meeting. Town officials first began reviewing Yogi Bear Jellystone Park’s CFD application at a special meeting on March 15, 2022.
Under the town’s zoning law amended by Local Law No. 1 of 2020, the expansion of an existing campground of more than 10 camping spaces requires a special use permit issued by the Town Board and the creation of a CFD consistent with provisions of the zoning law and Chapter 200 of the Town Code.
Lazy River proposed adding three new parcels at 30, 36 and 46 Bevier Road, bringing the total acreage from 70.8 acres to approximately 104 acres.
The town said it had found that 15 camp spaces already added to the expanded campground without necessary approvals.
Also, the town said that existing family structures in the expanded campground for overnight accommodations for transient guests with a total occupancy of 54 people and additional structures, improvements and accessory uses have been added at the campground without the necessary approvals.
These will now be allowed under the campground floating district and special use permit.
After spending more than 90 minutes reviewing a 37-page document that included 37 conditions with town attorney Allyson Phillips, the board approved the resolution to create the campground floating district at Lazy River.
Before voting against the resolution, Councilperson Carol Richman explained her vote.
“I’m opposing it because, for one thing, there are 17 campsites that are proposed to be added that have been in place illegally,” she said. “And these campsites, most or all of them, are within the 200-foot buffer that has been established by the campground floating district. I think those should be eliminated and not allowed to be within the 200-foot buffer.”
Richman felt like the board made too many concessions to Lazy River.
“I don’t see that there’s any need for us to waive what’s within our current campground floating district law that requires the 200-foot buffer,” she said. “I think it’s a very bad precedent and it’s unnecessary. And I think it also doesn’t address our goal which is to reduce the density that adds to noise, light and potential hazards and security issues.”
Councilman Franco Carucci said he agreed with some of Richman’s concerns, but said he supported the resolution to help ensure Lazy River complied with the town’s zoning requirements.
“My only reason for not rejecting the overall package of this resolution is because I think it does take us way further down the road than we’ve ever been and gives us our first opportunity to really try to bring the campground under compliance,” Carucci said.
Councilman Warren Wiegand said it was important to note that the town board heard the public’s concerns about the campground. During a series of public hearings, many speakers complained about noise, light and visuals, buffering and density.
“We really spent a lot of time listening to the people in the town, and particularly the people who were most directly affected by Lazy River,” he said. “We did three public hearings and it seems as though the last two years’ worth of privileges of the floor provided us opportunities of what the community had to say.”
Supervisor Marybeth Majestic conceded that some town residents would only be happy if Lazy River didn’t exist.
“Everybody has to bend a little. We’ve really worked hard on this and I think it’s a good product,” Majestic said. “Code enforcement is going to be the key to make it happen. And increased communications.”
The fifth board member Laura Walls also voted to approve the establishment of the campground floating district and to issue a special use permit to Lazy River.