Hunting club might be next game in town

July 17, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION


Plans are under way to establish a bird hunting club on 470 acres near Opequon Creek in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle where members also would be able to fish for trout from a pond and stay in two 12-room lodges to be built there, a spokesman for the project said last week.

Local attorney Mike Cassell, who is representing the developers of the club, asked the Jefferson County Commission last Thursday for a possible land-use definition to allow the club, which would be in the county's rural zone.

Commission member Jane Tabb said she believes there is nothing in the county's rural zone regulations that allows such an activity and Cassell presented a definition of a bird hunting club to be considered for adoption for the county's rural zone laws.


County officials would have to review the project for approval, Tabb said.

The club, which would be called Prospect Hall Club, would be off Brucetown Road along the western edge of Jefferson County and would include property that formerly made up Brackenbriar Kennels Inc., Cassell said. Some of the dog kennels from that business are on the site and would be used by members of the club, Cassell said.

The club would offer skeet, trapshooting and bird hunting, Cassell told commission members.

Trout fishing would be offered on Opequon Creek, which runs through the property, and on a pond that would be constructed, Cassell said.

A house on the land that was built in 1805 is being used as a lodge and will be renovated, Cassell said. The two other lodges being planned would have stucco and stone construction and would offer a full-service food operation, Cassell said.

About a third of the property would be dedicated to nature trails and bird watching, and about a quarter-mile buffer zone would be established between shooting activities and Brucetown Road, Cassell said.

To erect buffer zones, workers plan to uproot existing cedar trees from overgrown pastures and replant them, Cassell said.

All shooting would be toward the center of the property, Cassell said.

The club would probably have about 50 founding members, and the general membership likely will not exceed 100, Cassell said.

A Web site describing the club does not mention who is involved in operating it. The club is a private hunting and shooting club that also provides instruction on the safe handling of firearms, the Web site said.

Safety of the club's members and their guests is a constant concern and shooters are accompanied at all times by staff that is conscious of gun safety, the Web site states.

County Commission member Rusty Morgan said the county has been interested in allowing more flexibility in its land use laws to allow something like Prospect Hall Club. Hunting clubs are a good way to preserve open space yet increase tourism in the county, said Morgan, adding that such clubs have been popular in the Midwest.

"I very much support this type of activity," Commission member Jim Surkamp said.

"It's a different kind of recreation that America has discovered," Cassell said.

Tabb said she wants to study the issue closer.

The commission agreed to send Cassell's proposed bird hunting club definition to the Jefferson County Planning Commission to determine if it would be compatible with the county's comprehensive plan.

Prospect Hall Club

A hunting club in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle seeks to offer:

· Nature trails

·· Bird Watching

· Skeet

· Trapshooting

· Bird hunting

· Trout fishing

· Lodging

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