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Lynchburg College’s plan for camping facilities—dubbed an Eco Village—at Claytor Nature Study Center is on its way to the Bedford County Board of Supervisors with the County Planning Commission’s blessing. The commission voted, Monday night, to recommend it by a 6-1 vote. District 4 planning commissioner Frederic Fralick cast the lone dissenting vote.
The camping facilities will consist of eight primitive campsites with rustic facilities and the Eco Village, which will have eight cabins. According to Dr. Greg Eaton, who manages the Claytor Center, there is enough money to build two cabins. Those have not yet been designed, but Dr. Eaton said that they will be 600 square foot cabins with kitchen facilities that will have a microwave, small stove and a small refrigerator. They will also have a bathroom with a shower and composting toilet.
The cabins and campsites are intended for use by the college’s faculty, staff and students, although they will be available for rental by groups in the community as the Claytor Center’s other facilities are. Dr. Eaton said that they have separate corporate and non-profit organization rates.
“I don’t expect to charge the Boy Scouts at all,” he said.
Dr. Eaton said that the camping facilities are within the restrictions that the late Boyd Claytor placed on the 470-acre property before he donated it to the college. The restriction limits the total square footage of development that can take place, and Dr. Eaton said that even the primitive campsites count against that. It also strictly limits where such development can take place.
Several citizens, all adjoining property owners, spoke against the proposal.
“I want to know how cabins contribute to education,” said W. T. Swain. “It don’t make sense to me. What does this got to do with education?”
Kathleen Mallory said that some visitors to the Claytor Center drive fast down Woods Road, a narrow unpaved road at that point. She also said that there have been times when people attending events at the Claytor Center have parked on her property.
Mallory was concerned that the proposal would cause more problems, including noise.
“Most of us know college kids make noise,” she said.
Dr. Eaton said that the cabins contribute to the Claytor Center’s educational mission because it takes students 40 minutes to drive there from the college. This limits their access during a class lab period. Making it possible for students to stay overnight gives them extended access to the facility for lab work.
Dr. Eaton said that he was not aware of people parking on Mallory’s property.
“That’s not to say it didn’t happen,” he commented.
District 5 Planning Commissioner Steve Stevick said that he was a personal friend of Claytor and the two of them had worked together on conservation related projects. “I’m comfortable that what has been proposed is consistent with what he wanted,” Stevick said. “I’m prepared to recommend approval.”
District 3 Planning Commissioner Steve Wilkerson noted that there are other uses that the college could make that would be considered an accessory use to an educational facility and, thus, a use by right. He said that these would have a much greater impact on the site than what the college is proposing.
Fralick based his dissenting vote on the fact that the plan does not include fire suppression provisions. Dr. Eaton had said that this was not included because it would have meant they would have to drill another well.
Board Chairman Curtis Stephens expressed concern about the fire pits in the primitive camping area, but voted to recommend the project.