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Developer proposes 306-stall RV Park in Animas Valley

Resort would be an ‘avant-garde’ experience
An example of one of the luxury adventure cabins at the Village Camp resort in Truckee, California. A developer is proposing an RV park with 306 stalls, including 49 prefabricated “adventure cabins.” (Courtesy of Scott Roberts)

More than 60 peopled filled the Animas Valley Grange this week for a neighborhood meeting held by the La Plata County Planning Department to learn details of a proposed luxury RV park north of Durango.

Area residents approached the evening with a mix of wariness and enthusiasm as Scott Roberts, the developer behind the project, addressed the crowded room. More than anything, attendees had minor questions for Roberts.

The development would be under the Village Camp brand, an offshoot of Roberts Resorts, a company founded by Scott’s parents 55 years ago. Roberts is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and said financing will come from his company and one “high-net worth individual” he declined to name.

The proposal, currently in the sketch phase of the minor land-use permit process, would occupy 36.3 acres of land where a gravel pit once sat. It would include 306 stalls for RVs and be developed in phases. Of those stalls, 257 would be set up for users to arrive with RVs, while 49 would have prefabricated “adventure cabins,” which Roberts says are the foundation of the brand.

A developer is proposing a 306-stall luxury RV park in the Animas Valley built under the Village Camp band.

Roberts has also committed to preserving and improving public access to the makeshift river put-in currently on the property.

The cabins, which are more like luxury tiny homes, meet the definition of a recreational vehicle and thus would be allowed in the park. Roberts said the units his company uses are the most expensive to ever come out of the factories that build them.

“This modular construction would be similar to having your own luxury hotel room,” said Andrew Arnold, a planner from the Durango-based engineering firm SEH with whom Roberts is working. " … The construction would look like some of our more high-end mountain homes here in Durango; it just happens to be smaller.”

Scott Roberts, CEO of Roberts Resorts and Village Camp, addresses more than 60 people at the Animas Valley Grange on Wednesday night. (Reuben Schafir/Durango Herald)

The resort would also boast a clubhouse with food and beverage amenities as well as a small pool.

Roberts said the clientele his resorts attract come from a more affluent class than one would expect at an RV park. His pitch to the community included mentions of six-figure Sprinter vans and Teslas.

This is neither Roberts’ first foray into Village Camp development, nor Durango real estate.

The first Village Camp opened in Truckee, California, this fall. A second will open in Flagstaff, Arizona, in February, and development is underway for two more in Moab and Park City, Utah. Roberts Resorts also purchased the Oasis RV Park in Durango earlier this year.

Roberts told attendees he was committed to becoming a part of the fabric of Durango’s community and wanted to engage and actively problem-solve.

“We need to earn your trust, we need to listen to you and we need to adjust,” Roberts said.

The land is under contract for sale to Roberts pending approval of the plan. The current owner, Pat Palmer, is a county resident of 33 years and has great faith in the developer.

“I've had multiple offers on that piece of property over the last couple of years and I've been waiting for somebody like Scott to show up,” Palmer said. “We've done a lot of work, researching Scott and to see what he does, to see his business model and how he performs and how he handled himself, and I feel like we're very fortunate to have him come into our space.”

Some area residents appeared excited about the prospect of the development, particularly those who will benefit from the river access.

“For years we have been working trying to improve and fix the river access at Trimble Lane – my comment here at the public meeting was that it looks like a bomb went off,” said Kent Ford, a Durango resident who describes himself as a river enthusiast and advocate. “It’s really trashed and that’s because it had and absentee landowner and there was no way for the community to really be an advocate for taking care of that little put-in. So the prospect of them having a trail alongside the river, taking care of the riparian zone, having a boat ramp for the fishing dories, that’s just all tremendous, and so I want to advocate for that.”

Construction is underway at the Village Camp resort in Flagstaff, Arizona. The resort is expected to open in February. (Courtesy of Scott Roberts)

Others at the meeting also applauded Roberts’ commitment to preserving river access.

Still, some residents are skeptical.

Jimbo Buickerood, president of Hermosa Creek Ditch Co., repeatedly raised concerns that the water taps on the property would not adequately service the development.

Roberts said that because planning was in such an early stage, he could not answer specific questions about water. However, he said Animas Water Co. has assured the company it can provide water service, and he remains confident that he and his engineers will resolve any issues.

“Obviously, the county's not going to approve a project that doesn't have adequate water or doesn't have a sewer or electric service,” Roberts said.

Dot Wehrly said enjoys taking her RV on vacation, but she would never stay in a park this big. Many online reviews of the Village Camp resort in Truckee note that the pull-ins are too small and too close to one another.

In response, Roberts said the Truckee resort was an existing RV park when his company purchased it and said renovation construction is underway. The slips in Truckee are 20-25 feet wide, while the ones at the proposed Durango development would be 30-40 feet wide.

While water usage for landscaping is an area of concern, the broader environmental impacts of the project are less of an issue. The site is a former gravel mine, meaning significant degradation has already taken place.

La Plata County Land Use Planner Dan Murphy said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife would both be offered an opportunity to comment, but he did not anticipate any issues.

Now that the compliance review process has closed, Murphy has 15 days to determine whether the project is in compliance with the land-use code. If he finds that it is, he will schedule it to go before the planning commission in late January or early February. Murphy said a hearing before the board of county commissioners would likely take place during the summer.


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