Burrillville planners grant approval, recommendation to tiny cabin project on Scout land


BURRILLVILLE – Members of the Burrillville Planning Board voted unanimously to approve a master plan for a proposal that would see 65 tiny cabins installed on a property that currently holds a scouting camp.

The Getaway Cub World project also received positive recommendation from planners, and will now go before the Burrillville Zoning Board to apply for a special use permit. The plan, submitted by Brooklyn, NY-based company Getaway, affects three lots in a F5 zone, where uses such a campground are permitted with zoning approval.

The business markets tiny cabins on wheels, where visiting urban dwellers can unplug and reconnect with nature, and already offers stays at 30 destinations across the country, including several outposts in neighboring Massachusetts.

In Burrillville, Getaway hope to build the 65-unit campground on a property currently owned by the Rhode Island Boy Scouts known as known as Cub World. The 180-acre Buck Hill Road lots now under review are part of the larger 1,600-acre Buck Hill Scout Reservation.

“The land development is consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan, specifically, Chapter II Natural Resources and Open Spaces; Chapter III Community Service and Facilities; Chapter VII Economic Development; Chapter VIII Recreation and Chapter XI Land Use,” notes the decision on the concept plan for the Major Land Development, passed on Monday, Feb. 6.

Cub World, first opened in 1997, has long offered overnight stays to young Scouts and their caregivers, with space for up to 48 campers. Getaway plans to reuse existing structures, including a garage and lodges at the scout camp, as well as cell towers and septic.

“The Land Development will have no significant environmental impacts, as it will be utilizing existing infrastructure and has limited clearing of new land for campsites,” planners note in the decision.

A startup launched by Minnesota native Jon Staff in 2015, the business offers short-term stays in small trailers stocked with necessities, and featuring a basic kitchen, bathroom and bed. Getaway markets 140-200 square-foot, “cabins,” with heat and air conditioning, and stocked with essentials, with the aim of offering busy travelers an easy way to slow down and enjoy nature. Getaway encourages visitors to lock up their cell phones during their stay, promoting the properties as, “a way to create distance from the relentless demands of work, schedules, and technology.”

The Burrillville lots could be well-suited to the mission. The property is situated adjacent to protected land in the state-run Buck Hill Management Area, surrounded by ponds, streams and open space with walking trails.

A two night stay at one of Getaway’s Massachusetts outposts for one adult on a weekend in early March would cost just under $900, according to booking data.

Local reactions to the project have been mixed, with some noting that a campground is in keeping with the area, and less intrusive than a housing development, while others point out that the environmentally-sensitive property sits amid forests that are home to animal and plant species currently on the state-endangered, threatened, and special concern list.

The unanimous planning approval this month is conditional on the developer’s acquisition of a special use permit. The preliminary plan can be found here.

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