PROSSER -- A Benton County hearing board voted unanimously to grant a special use permit Thursday for a proposed 182-unit family-friendly RV park on 25 acres near Cotttonwood Elementary School in Badger Canyon.
The approval came despite dozens of protests at the Benton County Board of Adjustment's meeting last month where concerns about added traffic, noise, smoke from fire pits and fear that the park would become a magnet for child predators produced petitions with 106 signatures.
Dave and Charlotte Schlotfeldt said at the last meeting their project would be designed speficically to attract high-end RVers, and would be a good neighbor to the rural residential area filled with expensive properties.
More than a dozen people attended Thursday's hearing to watch but no public testimony was allowed.
The board's decision, in which Chairman Brent Chigbrow did not participate because of a potential perceived conflict of interest, did not surprise the Schlotfeldts.
"We were comfortable going in because we did our homework on the zoning," Dave Schlotfeldt said.
The board declared the project appropriate because it was compatible with the area, was allowed by the zoning under a special use permit and was less intrusive than other permitted uses such as retail stores and motels, which would be allowed on the property.
The 25 acres is adjacent to I-82 and the eastbound exit at Badger Canyon.
But the board had some hesitation about some aspects of the project as proposed.
As approved, the project will have gas-fired firepits instead of using wood and only common small farm animals will be allowed in the petting zone.
The board also will not allow tent cabins, required fencing with landscape buffering, and agreed to give the Schlotfeldts up to 180 days for the maximum length of stay for RVers instead of the county staff's recommended 120 days.
The Schlotfeldts orginally requested a maximum stay of 12 months out of a 14-month period.
"I am totally fine with the fencing and landscaping, and the gas-fired firepits is not an issue," Dave Schlotfeldt said.
"We would have liked the stay to be longer, but it's workable," he added.
Schlotfeldt said the fact that the board did not even mention the alleged traffic or child predators concerns showed those issues "were not warranted."
With approval of the board of adjustment, Schlotfeldt said work will begin on engineering with ground breaking to start in the middle or late summer.
* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org