‘Glamping’ resort proposed in Charlemont

Charlemont Planning Board Chair Bob Nelson, left, looks on as civil engineer Jim Scalise, employed by Jeffrey and Jennifer Neilsen, details plans for 32 “glamping” cabins as part of the Hinata Mountainside Resort proposed for 133 Warfield Road in Charlemont.

Charlemont Planning Board Chair Bob Nelson, left, looks on as civil engineer Jim Scalise, employed by Jeffrey and Jennifer Neilsen, details plans for 32 “glamping” cabins as part of the Hinata Mountainside Resort proposed for 133 Warfield Road in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI


Staff Writer

Published: 04-10-2024 4:03 PM

CHARLEMONT — About 20 people crammed into a room at Town Hall on Tuesday for the first public hearing about an Agawam couple’s plans to buy the Warfield House Inn and convert the site into a mountainside resort.

Jeffrey and Jennifer Neilsen hope to buy the 473-acre property from the Schaefer family, which owns the encompassing Berkshire East Mountain Resort, and were on hand with civil engineer Jim Scalise for a preliminary discussion of their intentions. The Neilsens want to rejuvenate the existing restaurant and build 32 “glamping” cabins. Glamping refers to glamorous camping, or traditional camping combined with accommodations and facilities more luxurious than those typically associated with it.

“We have a really good business plan,” Jeffrey Neilsen told the Planning Board, adding that the plan is to open Hinata Mountainside Resort by May 1, 2025, and employ 15 to 20 people to start. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

He mentioned he and his wife plan to move their three young children to Charlemont as soon as possible.

Scalise explained 31 acres — less than 10% — of the property would see any development, and this would include existing structures. The timber-frame cabins would each span 500 square feet and feature a small deck. Some would include a hot tub. Meanwhile, Scalise said the restaurant’s scope and scale would be greatly reduced.

Some residents voiced concerns over potential traffic, to which Scalise replied that traffic at peak times would be less than what is permitted now, if the restaurant was functional. He said 119 parking spaces would be required and the Neilsens are proposing 127.

Scalise explained there would be a cul-de-sac to accommodate a fire truck and ambulances, and the project is designed to not harm native maple trees.

Samuel “Brad” Smith, who said he is semi-retired and lives part-time on Warfield Road, said he feels the project is excessive in scale.

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“This whole thing just seems way overboard, to me,” he said.

Smith brought with him attorney Hussain Hamdan, who stated his client is also concerned about potential street lighting and light pollution from the property.

Margaret Howlett, who said she “lives fairly close” to the property, called into the meeting to say she lives in Charlemont eight to nine months of the year and worries about the potential for alcohol consumption and noise from high school and college students who rent cabins.

Sewer considerations

Immediately before the public hearing, Kurt Boisjolie, manager of the Charlemont Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Sewer Commissioner Joe Pellegrino spoke with the Planning Board to offer background on the Charlemont Sewer District and comments on the proposed mountainside resort. Boisjolie explained the Sewer District has, on rare occasions, allowed wastewater flow from a specific building outside the district’s boundary to be connected to the district’s collection system via privately owned sewer connections, with the requirement that the allowed connections are for that specific building only. One such occasion in 1996 was for the Warfield Restaurant building, located outside the district’s boundary on Warfield Road.

Any increase to the size of the Warfield Restaurant or any other building desired to be connected from the Warfield property would require approval in a new agreement with the Sewer District. This, according to Boisjolie, was the case in 2015, when there was a request for four specific existing buildings on the property to connect.

Pellegrino stressed he does not want to be an impediment to the proposed resort, but he also has a responsibility to the town as one of its sewer commissioners.

“I really don’t have an opinion [on the plan] one way or another, myself,” he said.

Scalise noted this is only the beginning of the process.

According to the special permit application filed with the Planning Board, other approvals the project requires — in addition to the special permit and Sewer Commission approval — include a building permit, a liquor license, an order of conditions to be filed with the Conservation Commission and a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

“We’re just starting,” Scalise said. “We look forward to working with you.”

For further details, view the special permit application at tinyurl.com/CharlemontResort.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.