BENTONVILLE — The Benton County Planning Board on Wednesday night delayed voting on a plan for a glamping site.

The planners voted 5-0 after a public hearing to delay voting for two weeks to get more clarity on the project. The board also wants an update on several conditions that must be met for the approval of the project. Two conditions concerned the septic system and getting a hydrologist to determine whether any underground water is running into Beaver Lake.

The vote will take place during the Sept. 21 meeting.

Contentment at Beaver Lake is planned for at 12200 Shockley Place Road. The site is east of Hickory Creek.

Gene and Candia Nicholas, the property owners, submitted an application for a “glamping site” to be comprised of 24 glamping tents, six covered wagons, five family cabins, five vacation cabins, a lodge, a waterfront pavilion, a pool/spa, and a maintenance and bathhouse, according to planning documents.

The item previously was tabled by the Planning Board to gather more information.

Updated site plans include 40 glamping tents, 12 covered wagons, a base-camp lodge, equipment rental space, a pool/spa, maintenance/well-house, two pavilions and a bathhouse, according to planning documents.

Rogers attorney Brent Johnson, who represents the applicant, told the planners the project encompasses 200 acres which includes 33 acres for glamping. He said the project will include hiking areas.

Johnson said the project is compatible with surrounding properties and he’s asking the planners to approve the project.

Planning Board member Bob Bracy asked about the water plans for the area.

Johnson said one water well has been approved and the engineer will be working on the septic plan if the planners approve the project.

Johnson told Bethany Rosenbaum, a planning board member, he had not seen a petition with 500 signatures against the project.

Johnson said it is Phase One of the project, but his client will have to bring any expansion projects to the planning board.

Dozens of people were at Wednesday’s meeting. Individuals had three minutes and someone representing a group had 10 minutes to address the board.

James McCarthy, manager for environmental quality for Beaver Water District, told the planners the district opposed the project because of water quality concerns. McCarthy said the concern is over the proximity of having an intensive project near the district’s intake system.

Cathy Denton said she was representing people in the area. She asked how many people in the audience opposed the plans. Several hands in the audience went up.

Denton was concerned about the project’s impact on the water and the collection of sewage. She also questioned why the project would be put in a rural residential area.

Hank Barnes said he’s lived in his home on Railcut Road for more than 32 years. Barnes was also concerned about the project’s impact on the water quality. He asked the board to review all the facts about the project and think about the people who could be negatively impacted by the project.

Steve Wilson, a former firefighter for the Piney Point Fire Department, said the department does not have the manpower for the project.

Anne Yancey said she lives across from the proposed project. She said the project is incompatible with the existing usage of the area and with the water supply.

A few more people spoke and were opposed to the project.

Carlos Mayo, who lives in the area, said he’s not opposed to the project and thinks it is one of the things people see in commercials to attract people to the state.

Scott Leachman said his property is near the site. He said he was initially against the project based on rumors he’s heard.

Leachman said he’s changed his opinion and asked the planners to compare the project to Camp War Eagle. He said the glamping site will bring more revenue to the area.

Zach Stoltenberg, architect for the project, said the goal is provide a luxury glamping experience. He said it will be a top-tier resort to draw people to the site and enjoy Beaver Lake.

He showed photographs of the tents with one-bedroom units and a bathroom.

“These are not the pitch-in-your-yard-type tents,” he said.

He said it’s not backyard camping. “That’s where the G in glamping comes from,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg showed photographs of the covered wagons and other structures on the proposed site.

Stoltenberg said the total occupancy at the site is 186 people.

Noel Ottaviano said he lives across from the site. He said the planners have listened to people’s concerns, but worries are about who makes sure all the conditions are followed.

“If everything is not followed, then it could impact our drinking water,” he said.

Ottaviano said he believes it could be good project for Northwest Arkansas if everything is done correctly.

published 2022-09-08 13:57:00