Public hearings set on Kalahari and water, sewer bonds in Spotsylvania

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Tuesday night to address ordinances concerning a proposed waterpark resort.

The public hearing will address Kalahari Resorts & Conventions’ interest in obtaining a loan through a Virginia tourism program that requires the state and county to help cover the costs with tax revenue earned by the resort.

The meeting, which starts at 6 pm, will be held at the Holbert Building.

In July, supervisors approved rezoning nearly 135 acres between US 1 and Interstate 95 from agricultural to planned development commercial so Kalahari can build the resort. The property is in an area designated for growth, aimed at tourism, near the southernmost I–95 interchange in the county.

Plans for the Wisconsin-based company’s resort call for more than 1.38 million square feet of commercial space, a 267,429 square-foot indoor water park, a 10-acre outdoor water park, a 900-room hotel and a 156,278 square-foot convention center .

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In an effort to draw Kalahari to Spotsylvania, the overall agreement includes big tax breaks on revenue generated through the resort over 20 years, amounting to an estimated $185 million in savings for the resort.

The water park also is expected to inject millions into the county’s coffers.

According to the county’s summary for the public hearing, Kalahari will invest more than $500 million to build the park, along with creating more than $500 million in new jobs.

Kalahari is seeking the loan through the state’s Tourism Development Financing Program to help cover 30% of the project cost, the minimum required through the program. In the agreement, the county and state would join with Kalahari on the “gap” loan.

The county’s estimated cost for its contribution would amount to $74.8 million over 20 years. According to the county’s summary for the meeting, the county’s “exposure would be limited to an amount equivalent to the 2% sales and use tax derived solely from the Kalahari project until debt service on the gap financing is complete.”

The ordinance being considered would adopt the Spotsylvania County Tourism Comprehensive Marketing plan, which determines that “the Kalahari project meets a deficiency … specifically the need to increase the number of visitors, the duration of the stays of visitors, and the number of quality new attractions and hotels in Spotsylvania’s inventory.”

The other ordinance related to Kalahari calls for the supervisors to acknowledge that the project will address the tourism deficiency and allows the county administrator to enter into the agreement.

Water and sewer bonds

The board also is slated to hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding the allocation of up to $69.2 million in bond funds for water and sewer infrastructure projects.

The funds would be used to improve and expand the county’s water and sewer system.

The board will have to adjust the budget to incorporate the water and sewer funding, which will require a future public hearing.

The county has three wastewater treatment plants, two water plants and three reservoirs, along with 47 pump stations, seven water tanks and more than 1,200 miles of pipes.

The bond funds would provide funding for a range of projects, including $22.6 million for the Massaponax wastewater treatment plant expansion and $6 million for Thornburg wastewater treatment plant upgrades.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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