Sokol Camp residents concerned with proposed river resort

Normally the Platte River is calm this time of year but controversy is swirling along its banks in western Douglas County.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Normally the Platte River is calm this time of year but controversy is swirling along its banks in western Douglas County.

A riverside community with a rich history and proposed new camping resort may not enjoy neighborly summers.

The entrance to 85-year-old Sokol Camp has a new stop sign aimed at RV campers who could move onto neighboring land next year.

“And the boats and the noise and the congestion, how is that going to affect these other neighboring communities,” said Sokol Camp Attorney Dennis Koley.

The developer of Platte River Resort Brad Brown says he hopes to keep neighbors as happy campers by cutting 15 RV sites from his original plans.

“I’m willing to compromise to find a way to make this happen so it’s a win for everybody,” Brown said.

The 275 remaining seasonal spots are buffered by thick woods and RV campers must pay a $4,000 damage deposit.

“They would be at risk if they don’t play by the rules, or they offend the neighbors or just don’t respect the property.”

But Sokol Camp residents aren’t just concerned about a flood of noise. Residents are concerned if the RV park is built, they wonder what assurances will they have that their protection won’t be weakened.

Sokol Camp has 56 houses with 19 full-time residents who barely escaped severe damage in the flood of 2019.

“If that berm is removed or reduced in size the water will either go over it or around it and come back and fill in the subdivision,” said Sokol Camp resident Rich Tesar.

The RV park developer says he’s aware of flood-protecting berms.

“We have to work around them. They are not to be touched.”

Brown piloted his airboat for rescues during the flood and wants RV campers to bring them here for recreation. The resort will have a launch ramp more than half a mile from Sokol camp. But what’s to stop air boaters from going that way?

“Because there is a railroad bridge that is a barrier most boats cannot get under that railroad bridge. So the air boaters are going to be going down river away from Sokol Camp.”

However, airboat engine noise has Rich Tesar convinced that the Sokol Camp neighborhood, fishing pond and visitors to the pavilion will lose serenity.

“We are going to go from a quiet facility to being next to an airport because you’ll have airboats going up and down the river.”

Various permits are needed before 100 wooded acres become an RV resort and opposition during the approval process won’t make this a summer of fun along this stretch of the Platte River.

the controversy heats up next week when the valley planning commission considers a conditional use permit for the RV resort. The board’s recommendation will move on to the Valley City Council for a vote.

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