Proposals to convert a former business into an Airbnb and add a recreational vehicle park with cabins to an existing business have moved forward.
During a recent meeting, the Seymour Plan Commission gave favorable recommendations to land use variances requested by Brooke and Kim Fleetwood for the Airbnb at 400 N. Chestnut St. and Gregg Pardieck and Todd Storey with Parkland Inc. for the RV park and cabins on the Chateau de Pique Winery and Brewery property at 6361 N. County Road 760E.
The board voted 10-0 and 9-1, respectively, with Dave Eggers casting the lone nay vote. Jeri Wells was absent.
The final votes will come from the Seymour Board of Zoning Appeals at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in the training room upstairs at the Seymour Police Department, 205 N. Ewing St.
Kim Fleetwood stepped up to the podium to address the plan commission and her daughter attended virtually via GoToMeeting to explain their plans for Pink Castle on the northeast corner of Chestnut and Fourth streets.
Kim said they want to “make it an experience for guests coming in.”
“There’s nothing in the area to do this,” she said. “There are a lot of brides that come in the area, and they are getting ready for weddings, and several ladies could use this house.”
Answering questions from commission member Bret Cunningham, Kim said the Airbnb would be rented to one party at a time, and Brooke said capacity would be around 12 to 15 people.
No one attended the meeting to speak in favor of or against the proposal, but four people submitted favorable correspondence via email.
“I would love for this to come to the area. I think it would be a great asset to the community, and Brooke is a wonderful person that gives so much,” Michelle Allison wrote.
“Brooke is super amazing for coming forward and willing to build something different for this town, and I fully support it. Can’t wait to see what all she has to offer,” Kara Rice said. “I hope you all are willing to give her a chance, as well. Thank you for possibly giving her the opportunity.”
The Fleetwoods said the purchase of the building is contingent upon the city boards’ approval. If the BZA approves, the zoning would change from C-2 (general commercial) to R-3 (multiple-family residential).
RV park with cabins
Pardieck asked for a land use variance since his property is currently zoned R-1 (single-family residential), R-S (single-family residential zoning district) and C-1 (neighborhood commercial), but the latter doesn’t allow for RV parks.
Speaking on behalf of Parkland Inc., attorney Jeff Lorenzo said Pardieck and his father, Ralph, talked about including an RV park years ago, and it never came to fruition until now.
“It’s coming to fruition primarily because of a need driven by the coronavirus,” Lorenzo said. “We have lots of people who are not vacationing at typical resorts. They are buying RVs, and they are seeking out facilities like this. The whole process accelerated here in the last year or so.”
Chateau de Pique received requests to park RVs in its lot and has been allowing that for the past year and a half.
Pardieck is now requesting approval to have 45 stations for RVs to park and 20 cabins. Lorenzo said the full-service facility would have a bathhouse, electricity, two ponds, a playground, restrooms and shower facilities, a walking path and a gatehouse. The onsite management office would be in an existing building.
The RV park and cabins would be located between the winery and railroad tracks and operate from March/April to October/November. According to city ordinance, rental would have a maximum of 90 days.
“The ordinance does not allow people to park for more than 90 days, so if you’re going to stay the summer, you can stay the summer, but you can’t live there. You’re going to have to pull out,” Lorenzo said. “We don’t anticipate at any given moment they are going to have 65 RVs there. We’re building it to capacity that makes sense, and we want to have room for as many people as we can have room for.”
Lorenzo said he has heard Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson say there’s a need for more recreational facilities in the city.
“This fits, I think, with an overall plan for the city of Seymour to develop additional recreational facilities for the people that live here and the people that are coming into the community,” he said. “To the extent that people stay more than overnight, it’s an opportunity to sell the city, sell the county. It’s an opportunity for all of the businesses in the area to do better.”
Three people who live near the winery said they weren’t for or against the proposal, but they expressed some concerns.
George Mellencamp owns property north of the winery and said he can’t farm 2 acres of it because it’s wet. He asked if the RV park would make his property wetter.
“It’s just wet ground. It’s like quicksand back there,” Mellencamp said. “The further you get south, the drier the ground gets.”
Chad Leinart with Independent Land Surveying of Brownstown said they would dig the ponds out bigger to get more dirt and raise the ground up. If the proposal is approved by the BZA, Leinart said he would move forward with the site plans and submit them to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Jackson County Drainage Board.
Eric Jackson, who lives west of the winery, said the county road already has a lot of traffic and large potholes, and he is concerned what large RVs traveling on it would do to the road. While the road is in the city’s 2-mile fringe, Eggers said it’s the responsibility of the county to maintain it, and he recommended Jackson contact his district’s county commissioner.
Lorenzo said if the BZA approves the land use variance, he would talk to the county commissioners to ensure the roadway is properly maintained.
Jackson also asked if the property could ever be turned into a trailer park, and Building Commissioner Jeremy Gray said that would require applying for a different zoning category. Lorenzo said the petitioners don’t have any intention of doing that.
Gray said his office has received inquiries about a campground or RV park in the area, and he recommended Pardieck apply for a land use variance instead of a zoning change.
“I think it’s a really good fit,” he said. “It’s a good recreational area. I think it would be an asset.”
Commission member Dan Robison agreed and made a motion to approve the request, which was seconded to allow for a vote.
“I’ve been out there a couple times and met folks, people come through in RVs, visit with them. They are interested in our community,” he said. “I think it is a great demographic of folks that we want to attract to our community and visit our attractions and stuff here, so I think it’s an ambitious plan. I like it.”