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Developer Donovan Pearson made a presentation to Boone County Commissioners regarding a $3 million cabin resort project in the Danville area of Boone County on May 25.

MADISON — A proposed new development in the Danville area of Boone County will require water infrastructure.

According to developer Donovan Pearson, water is the primary obstacle for him and investors to overcome in their plan to build multiple cabins on Mountaineer Drive on U.S. 119. The site for the proposed cabins is near what was once Magic Mart and is now a new development for Boone Memorial Hospital.

Pearson, whose family collectively owns the property, said he believes lack of water is holding back any future progress on that land.

“Our biggest issue with that property and the reason our family hasn’t done anything with it is the lack of water access,” Pearson told Boone County Commissioners on May 25 during their regular session. “This presentation includes data I’ve collected, challenges and I’ll lay out a pretty clear plan for future growth.”

Pearson said he was awarded a business financial planner, funded by the State of West Virginia, to assist him in the development of the resort project.

A similar resort is planned in Peytona near the forthcoming Indian Creek Hatfield-McCoy Trail System head. Those plans include 22 cabins, a primitive camping area and approximately 11 RV spots.

“What I am proposing is 25 cabins in phase one, 20 cabins in phase two, and phase three and four would be engineered at a later date,” Pearson said. “What you’d have is a wash station for ATVs as you come off of the four-lane and a general store. We can offer things that others can’t, as you’ve got the town of Danville, the city of Madison and you have Southridge and Water Ways. With the Workman Branch proposed interest (in the Hatfield-Mccoy Trail System) I have spoken to both towns and the county and I’d like to think we won’t have an issue with out-of-state guests riding ATVs through town to access that. If you cut that off, you’ll kill this business.”

He added, “You’ve got to understand, these folks will be out in the morning buying ice, fuel and snacks and in the evening, they’ll stop at K-Bo’s or Taco Bell and eat. You’re talking about business brought in. The majority of the people who are coming down here are from Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York. Most of these people aren’t visiting because it is a cheaper alternative but because it is a different alternative.”

Pearson said that through his research, visitors seek cabins with private bathrooms, more brew pubs, cabins close to the trails, fishing options and more food and drink options.

“We need water and utilities; there is very little construction needed and you can take the cabins up there, hook them up and start renting out right now and very little is needed in preparing the site,” Pearson said.

Pearson, a 2007 graduate of Scott High and engineering consultant for Thrasher Engineering, said the first two phases of the project will cost approximately $3 million and include multiple investors.

“This thing dies if I don’t have water,” he said.

Pearson estimates that bringing water under U.S. 119 to the site — which would also serve as water access to other future projects in that area — would ring in at $250,000.

“With the American Rescue Plan, I also believe there are grants available to cover 80% of that and the other 20% covered by the county,” Pearson said. “Out of that 20%, you can get that reduced by PSC rule 505 that states West Virginia American Water will have to help you cover some of that cost. I’m hoping in some of the money you have coming that you can find it available to appropriate that.”

Terry Martin, a project coordinator at Regional Intergovernmental Council who has worked with multiple water projects in Boone County, told commissioners that water projects involving drilling under highways have been completed in Boone County in the past.

“We went under the corridor eight times, I’m told,” he said. “You’re talking $125,00 to $150,000 just for the bore and then taking the waterline from where it is at the former Magic Mart. The current access at Route 3 near the Exxon station is a long haul and it isn’t a high-pressure line.”

Martin added his professional insight, “I think it is a great idea, but I think he needs to go to the Boone County PSD with the same presentation because the way this has worked for Boone County, if they have a PSD that is a public/private partnership with West Virginia American Water so therefor they are the ones to apply (for grant funding) if that is the way we are going to go. We also have the ability to go through the infrastructure council and other places that may be a funding source to do this.”

He added, “I believe the Boone County PSD needs to come to you for assistance in getting him water.”

Commission President Craig Bratcher and commissioners Brett Kuhn and Jacob Messer, Ph.D., showed collective support for the project and facilitating communication with the Boone County PSD.

“You’ve got me sold,” said Bratcher. “I want to see this happen. I can’t speak for the other two commissioners, but I’m on board with helping, depending on how much money we’ll have available. We need people like you thinking outside the box for Boone County.”

The Boone County Commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m., the third Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. and the last Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. at the Boone County Courthouse Annex, third floor. Call 304-369-7303.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.

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