MWA to Defend Protective Zoning Restrictions for Campground Expansion

The Mountain Pines Campground, which lies directly in front of the Indian Creek and Indian Creek Valley Trail, has been associated with a number of nuisances and issues for local residents for some time. Residents have complained of excessive noise from campers, heavy smoke due to campfire use, the presence of trash around the campground property, as well as contaminated water quality in Indian Creek from undertreated wastewater leaving the sewage treatment facility. 

On February 11, 2022, the parent company, Diamond Properties, LLC, filed a Petition for Special Exception before the Zoning Hearing Board of Fayette County—seeking to expand their current campground operations at Mountain Pines. The expansion would include the land that is currently home to the Clifford N. Pritts Elementary School and would add at least 125 new sites. Over the spring and summer of 2022, record numbers of residents came to a series of hearings and expressed concern that an expansion would further exacerbate the current issues. Such a strong showing from residents likely contributed to the Board ultimately attaching several protective conditions to their approval of the special exception. These conditions would significantly help to prevent the new development from creating more community harm and disruption than absolutely necessary. The 16 conditions included items such as improved road and pedestrian safety and, perhaps most importantly, limited the total number of campsites and campfires. The conditions were seen as a major win for many neighboring residents.

However, Diamond Properties appealed the decision of the Board on February 13, 2023. The appeal alleged that three of the imposed conditions were improper and outside the scope of the Board’s discretion. The three conditions appealed by Diamond Properties were: a limit on the size and number of campsites, a limit on the number of campfire rings, and a ban on permanent structures such as decks and sheds. MWA argues that the conditions were reasonable, related to the zoning ordinance, and supported by community and expert testimony, making the conditions exactly the type of tool that should be used by a zoning board to fulfill their legal obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of their community.

The Mountain Watershed Association requested, and was granted, permission to intervene in the appeal. This allows MWA’s attorneys to help support the Board in defending their decision to attach the protective conditions. MWA, the Board, and Diamond Properties submitted briefs to the Judge on the case in recent months. The next step in the process is to hold oral arguments in front of the Judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County. Oral arguments provide the opportunity for a judge to ask specific questions and for each party to explain the reasons why they think their position is correct on the issue. Oral argument is scheduled to be held on December 11, 2023, at 2:00pm, in Courtroom 1 of the Fayette County Courthouse. 

MWA urges any concerned community members to attend the oral argument to show community support of the Board and the imposed conditions. If you choose to attend, we encourage you to wear green to show support of your community and local watershed. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Madison Hinkle at