Scranton has trains, trolleys, parks, hiking trails and a ski resort and now may get a campground as its newest attraction.
A New York man proposes to put a campground on 197 acres of mountainous land in the northernmost part of the city, off of Morgan Highway.
Lourival Chiarentin of New Rochelle, New York, bought the land in January.
A hair stylist, he envisions a change in career to owning and operating a “glamping”-style campground on the mountain tract. The site is situated between Bob Fiegleman’s Morgan Highway Auto Parts & Recycling business and Lahey Family Fun Park, and extends to Route 11, where that road parallels Interstate 81 through the gap in the mountains known as the notch.
Chiarentin’s proposal, which calls for 80 campsites, 10 cabins and 15 RV sites on the 197-acre tract, will go before the zoning board on April 7 during a virtual hearing at 6 p.m., according to a recent public notice in The Times-Tribune. The campground also would have indoor/outdoor common space for gatherings and events, a bathhouse and bathrooms, and an office and homesite, the public notice says.
In a phone interview, Chiarentin said he plans to call the campground Copacabana, after the famed beach and neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in his native country of Brazil.
Chiarentin, 53, grew up four hours north of Sao Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, and came to America in 1999. He has since been living and working in Westchester County, New York.
His son recently moved to Damascus Twp., Wayne County.
“We were looking to find place to move close to him,” Chiarentin said. “A campground is something I’d like to do because I love to camp.”
In traveling through Northeast Pennsylvania to visit his son, Chiarentin discovered Scranton and its environs. He found the region to be friendly and relaxed, and said it reminds him of his native country.
“The people in general — it’s a different vibe. I felt like, wow, it’s like Brazil,” Chiarentin said of Scranton and NEPA.
He searched on the internet for land suitable for a campground and found the 197 acres. The city has water and sewer service, and the property itself is remote yet close to highways and shopping centers. He bought the tract on Jan. 8, 2021 for $250,000, according to public real estate assessment records.
Chiarentin’s campground proposal will need a variance or a special exception from the zoning board. The 197 acres encompasses varied zoning, including general commercial, conservation/residential and R2 residential zones, said city Planner Don King.
The tract had changed hands a few times over the years, but prior owners never did anything with it, King said.
As for a campground proposal, King said, “I don’t know that there’s much else you can with that land because it’s steep slopes and wooded.”
If he gets the go-ahead, Chiarentin hopes to start creating a campground this summer and complete it in phases.
“The town is so hopeful,” he said. “Everyone is very helpful and it’s very encouraging.”
A reporter for more than two decades, Jim Lockwood covers Scranton for The Times-Tribune, which he joined in 2011 after working at newspapers in New Jersey. His 2012 reporting of Scranton’s deepening financial crisis garnered him a statewide first-place award for news beat coverage in the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association’s Keystone Press Awards. He also won the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s Public Notice Journalism Award in multiple years plus national journalism awards from The Public Notice Resource Center, including a first-place win in 2015, and a second-place showing in 2017. Married with three children, Jim lives in Pike County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-348-9100, x5185.