I am a co-founder of Sojourner Glamping, the company proposing an outdoor retreat on 116 acres at the intersection of Dyke and Mutton Hollow, a property that was previously planned for 29 luxury homes. We chose Greene County because of its beauty, proximity to the mountains, and easy access from major metro areas. We selected this property because of its proximity to the National Park and Route 33, the main route for visitors to the park. Sojourner is focused on offering guests a retreat in nature. As such, our focus is on creating as serene an environment as possible. That means keeping noise levels to a minimum, using dark-sky friendly lighting, planting lots of native trees on the property, and doing our best to preserve the rural character of the area.
I have spent a great deal of time in the community the last 6 months; meeting folks, making friends, and listening to concerns. The concerns we hear on traffic, water use, noise and other issues are our concerns as well, as our brand depends on offering a natural, peaceful environment to guests. In order for our glamping retreat to succeed, we need to deliver on that promise. Here are some common concerns we hear from (and share with) community members, as well as facts addressing them:
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- Traffic: Both Dyke and Mutton Hollow roads are currently at less than 25% of planned capacity. The VDOT traffic study estimated the impact of our glamping retreat to be an increase of 2% of capacity, and that assumes 100% occupancy for the restaurant, spa and accommodations. Our glamping retreat will generate about as much traffic as a 29-home subdivision, but our use is seasonal; we’re expecting an average occupancy rate of 58% annually.
- Water: We will have less wells than a 29-home subdivision, 19 for our retreat vs. 29 for a sub-division. We have had water engineers verify our use will not impact surrounding neighbors.
- Water Treatment: Our water use is deemed “non-consumptive” by engineers, meaning we will treat it to a higher and cleaner standard than a housing division, and return it to the ground for recharge.
- Noise: Conditions in the special use permit require us to keep noise to a minimum, with quiet hours and 24-hour on-site staff to monitor. Noise levels generated from traffic on Route 33 were actually our biggest concern when considering this property, as again, we know our guests will be seeking a serene experience. We are taking steps to buffer the noise levels coming into the property.
We want to add value to Greene, starting with a first-class restaurant and spa for Greene residents to enjoy. We also want to contribute financially to smart growth in Greene. In recent budget years, the Sheriff’s department and schools did not always receive the funds they requested. Our business tax revenues to the county will help prevent this from occurring in the future, and will also help to avoid increasing the tax burden on the average Greene resident. Magnum Economics, a Glen-Allen, VA based company, estimates our county tax contribution to be $723,000 in the first year, and amounting to $7.4M over ten years. These funds could fill budget gaps, or fund needed improvements like emergency vehicles and parks. Beyond tax revenue, jobs and opportunity matter. Many Greene families will benefit from Sojourner, from the 120 construction jobs created, to the 65 full-time equivalent jobs from ongoing operations, with a minimum wage of $15/hour and an average wage of $25+/hour. Through increased tourism to the county and by featuring locally sourced food, brands, artisan products and services at the retreat, we will benefit local businesses.
Finally, our mission is to support the communities we work in. We will dedicate 1% of our revenues each year, estimated to be over $100,000/year, towards a project to benefit Greene residents, be it a community pool, rec center, or another priority in Greene. This will be managed through a local community fund, and we will work in collaboration with the community to decide how the funds will be used. If you want to learn more, or have questions, I am in Greene every week with my family, usually doing public events either at Maybelle’s or the White Lotus on Monday evenings. You can visit our website at www.sojournerglampingva.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to learn more.
I look forward to building on the relationships I have formed in Greene and to becoming a contributing member of this community.
published 2022-03-16 00:00:00