BRIDGEPORT - A seasonal resort proposed at the head of a road leading to California's best-known ghost town has been recommended by the Mono County planning commission.
Project developer Bill Lapham of Wellington said Friday the commission recommended approval of the proposed Bodie Hills RV Park Thursday on a 3-1 vote, with one member absent.
Lapham said no major changes were required of his proposal for a general store, 10-room motel, museum, 32 RV spaces, tent and cabin camping and laundry and shower facilities on 13 acres. Two single-family homes for employees are also planned.
The resort would be located just east of the intersection of highways 270 and 395, on property Lapham's family has owned for several generations. The resort would straddle Clearwater Creek, which runs along California Highway 270 - also known as "the Bodie Road."
Bodie peaked in the 1870s, gaining a reputation as a rugged and violent place. In 1881, Bodie began to decline, and a fire in 1932 destroyed many of the buildings. The town is now a state park that is held in a state of arrested decay.
Lapham said local support for his proposal is strong, but many people from throughout the West wrote Mono County planners to voice concerns about environmental and cultural impacts.
He said the buffer zone for Clearwater Creek has been increased from 10 to 30 feet, and the resort, which will be almost 13 miles from Bodie's entrance, will have a "low-key" atmosphere that doesn't detract from the town's rustic nature.
"They think it's going to be a Disneyland. It's a place for people to stop," Lapham said. "Everyone seems to think as soon as you turn off that road (Highway 395) to go to Bodie, you're at the Bodie experience. There are four ways to get to Bodie, and only one of them is paved. So if you want to have the Bodie experience, you can certainly have it."
Lapham said he expects to employ almost a dozen people, and the resort should help the economy of a county whose land is almost entirely government-owned. He said several people testified in support of the resort because it would provide a base for hiking and other activities, as well as seeing Bodie.
Several steps remain in the development process. Lapham said that in addition to an appearance before the Mono County Board of Supervisors, he is still securing permits and needs to drill a well and bring other utilities to the site.
If final approval is granted, Lapham plans to build the project in three phases, starting with the store and motel, continuing with the RV park and finishing with the camping facilities.
Bodie is located about 110 miles south of Gardnerville off Highway 395.