Riverside resort threatens Harpers Ferry’s viewshed

A developer hoping to build a resort near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., faces several regulatory roadblocks.

The developer, Rattling Springs Associates of McLean, Va., has submitted plans for a 50-room lodge and as many as 60 cottages along the banks of the Potomac River, not far from Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the 19th-century downtown. According to plans on file with Jefferson County, W.Va., visitors would be assigned golf carts to move around the 27-acre property, which would be situated above Potomac Street and offer river vistas the developer says are not often seen.

To continue with the project, however, the developer will have to get a variance from the county’s requirement for a 500-foot buffer along the Potomac. Water for the development would likely come from Harpers Ferry, but Mayor Jim Addy does not believe council members will approve the request, citing the potential strain on the current water system.

The NPS has adopted a “wait and see” attitude about the project. “We’re hoping that it’s not going to be approved,” says park spokeswoman Marsha Wassel. “The project would be adjacent to part of our land. It would certainly affect the viewshed.”

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