Tenn. Campgrounds Fear Zone Changes
Campground owners fear proposed changes to zoning codes in Sullivan County in the eastern tip of Tennessee could threaten both their businesses and their way of life, according to TriCities.com – Johnson City, Tenn.
The changes would prohibit campground owners from erecting any freestanding decks or porches at individual campsites. Bathroom and shower facilities would be allowed but only if included in a site plan approved by the county’s planning commission.
"They’re infringing upon my rights and everybody else’s rights," said Danny Hunt, who plans to build a campground off Painter Creek Road. "If you own your park, you ought to let (the people who stay there) do what you want to let them do."
Hunt and about 20-30 campground owners and campers gathered at Lakefront Campground Thursday night (Sept. 6) to air their concerns about the proposed zone changes, which are slated to come before the full Sullivan County Commission in two weeks.
They argued porches and decks were an important part of the campground experience, because they provided people with a way to get in their campers, a place for their children to play and also just to sit.
"We’ll go if they take away our porch," said Dorothy Brenchley, an 80-year-old Rural Retreat, Va., resident who stays at the Water Ridge campground.
Brenchley and her 85-year-old husband – whom she fears would not be able to get into the camper without the porch – are just two of the 3,000 or so people Don Anderson estimates come to the Painter Creek Road area each year to stay at its campgrounds.
Anderson has taken it upon himself to lead the area’s campers and campground owners as they bring their case before the County Commission when it meets on Sept. 17 in the Sullivan County Courthouse.
He also plans to build a campground of his own, designed to accommodate people who used to stay at the county-owned Observation Knob Park. The campground now sits virtually empty after the county evicted 200 semi-permanent residents in November 2006 and now limits stays to two weeks.
"We need to fight this," said Anderson, who fears the same fate will happen to other privately-owned Painter Creek Road campgrounds if the changes become law. "Our campers can just cross the line and go to Washington County (Va.)."