Sep. 23—HARMONSBURG — A decision to allow the owner of Conneaut Lake Park to convert the property into a family recreational vehicle (RV) park is on hold because of uncertainty over which Summit Township entity has jurisdiction to make a ruling.
The Summit Township Zoning Hearing Board was to act on Keldon Holdings LLC's proposal to add more than 460 RV sites to the property plus related facilities as well as recreation sites. Keldon has owned the amusement park property since March 2021.
Wednesday's hearing attracted a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 people to the Summit Township Building in Harmonsburg.
However, about an hour in, the zoning hearing board adjourned the hearing without making a ruling. No date has been set as yet as to when the board may reconvene on the matter.
The adjournment by the zoning hearing board was made to have its attorney research whether it or Summit Township supervisors themselves have jurisdiction.
The board adjourned after an inconsistency within the township's zoning ordinance was pointed out by Matt Tolbert, a township resident and hearing attendee.
Keldon wants to expand its present campground and develop a family RV park on the property which is within a B-1 business district. Those uses are permitted by special exception within a B-1 business district under the township's zoning code. Special exceptions are acted upon by the zoning hearing board.
But, under another section of the township's zoning code, RV parks are considered a conditional use within a B-1 business district.
"A conditional use is similar to a special exception except that it falls under the jurisdiction of the Board of Township Supervisors," the zoning code states.
Keldon also wants a variance from a 70-foot setback requirement from perimeter property lines and public roadways that's required for RV parks under the township zoning code. A 70-foot buffer would be required on both the east and west side of State Highway 618 and south of Reed Avenue due to RV sites being added.
At the start of the hearing, Todd Joseph, owner of Keldon Holdings LLC, outlined his general plans for the family RV park.
Since owning Conneaut Lake Park for past 18 months, Joseph said he's tried to develop a revenue plan.
In speaking with previous park owners/operators of the past 30 years, Joseph said all were consistent in the park needing some type of residual income.
The previous owners/operators all said the park could not just rely on a 12-week summer amusement park season.
Joseph said an RV park is the best option for the property.
"What we're trying to do is create residual income while still having a smaller park — indoor and outdoor — that's open year-round that benefits the community, benefits the township — everybody involved," he said. "Given the history and what all the previous owners have said as well, this is the best precursor to future events."
If the plan goes forward, the RV park's recreational amenities would be open to the public and there would be campground rules, according to Joseph.
Joseph said the RV park either would seek to have a public sewer line through the Conneaut Lake Joint Municipal Authority or develop its own sewer system for the site. Conneaut Lake Park does have its own water system.
Keldon's preliminary master plan map filed with the township adds 109 RV sites west of Route 618 to the park's Camperland property.
It would add 57 full-hookup RV campsites previously approved by the zoning hearing board in 2019 and an additional 52 full-hookup RV campsites. There also would be restroom/shower facilities, utilities, parking and stormwater management.
The 57 RV campsites approved in 2019 were part of a proposed expansion of Camperland when the amusement park was under the stewardship of Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, a nonprofit corporation that oversaw the park's operations.
East of Route 618, Keldon would add as many as 360 new 2,000-square-foot RV cabin sites on the amusement park lands.
A swimming pool with both a kiddie pool and splash pad would be added. A new miniature golf course and the amusement park's fabled carousel would be part of an outdoor amusement center.
The park's former convention center building would be repurposed as an indoor amusement center, bar and concert hall. The site also would have two boat storage facilities.
In March 2021, Keldon bought the amusement park — including grounds, amusement rides, water park and other assets — from Trustees of Conneaut Park for $1.2 million at a public proceeding in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western Pennsylvania.
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.