Luxury camping in sight at airport

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WALLA WALLA — What do you get when you cross a cluster of shiny Airstream travel trailers with the Walla Walla Regional Airport industrial park?

The latest vacation rental development, if proponents have their way.

Local independent food and wine writer and consultant Zibby Wilder is working with the Port of Walla Walla on a vacation destination development that will bring the glamorous camping movement known as “glamping” to airport industrial park property adjacent to the winery incubator buildings.

Port commissioners have given the Airstream development a green light, but the opening is a moving target, Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said Thursday.

“I think this project will move forward and be successful,” he told the three commissioners during the regular Port meeting.

Nevertheless, new questions have popped up since the initial approval a month ago, largely because “glamping is just not there” in any written regulations.

As a move to include the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency and the Walla Walla County Health Department, Wilder notified the various offices of her plans. That’s partly where questions have originated, Kuntz said.

Though no public process is needed to approve the project, it’s been unclear whether permits might be needed, since Chillville doesn’t actually include the construction of any new structures.

The “Chillville Walla Walla” development — pitched as a community of five fully functioning, amenity-rich Airstream trailers — is a sort of trailblazer for the concept here.

A few details that have come up include questions on water and sewer plans, plus anchoring for the trailers. Wilder has workable plans for all of those, Kuntz said.

Wilder is working with partner stakeholder Pamela Ottaviano Rhodes on the project, according to her initial proposal.

Chillville rides the growing phenomenon of luxurious camping to offer travelers another alternative in how they experience the communities they visit.

According to the proposal, amenities at Chillville would include communal outdoor living spaces, a gas/propane-powered fire pit, outdoor game courts for pétanque, picnic tables and beach-cruiser-type bicycles. Each unit sleeps two people — adults only.

The maximum occupancy would be 10 adults. No additional trailer parking would be provided. The Airstreams would be available for nightly rental only with a two-night minimum.

The first in the convoy is a 2012 Bambi 22-foot camper with queen bed, galley kitchen and full bath.

Kuntz said Thursday he’s heard reservations are already coming in for the summer. He believes the development could be operational within the next 30 days.

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