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Upscale Georgia RV Park Plan Backfires

February 25, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Linda Williams of inland Bulloch County, Ga., was looking for coastal Georgia property and found a deal that seemed too good to be true.
It cost Williams a lot of money to find out what kind of deal it really was, according to the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla.
For $20,000, she bought a lot in an upscale RV park under development and planned to spend her weekends there — relaxing, fishing, enjoying the coastal lifestyle. The park, Shellman Hammock, located between Savannah and Brunswick, seemed perfect for her needs.
“Finally! Own Coastal Georgia property for less!” the park’s website said. “Pristine still, with all the amenities of a more populated resort area. Beaches, fishing, golf, restaurants and much more!”
It seemed like paradise on the Julienton River — long views across the salt marsh, pelicans skimming the surface of the river, the smell of fresh local shrimp frying.
That was last year. This year, the park’s not open, she has no access to her property and can’t put up a tent on it, much less park a motorhome or camping trailer.
The county is stopping her.
“We’re restricted from getting on it even though we’ve paid the taxes on it,” she said. “We’ve got something we can’t use.”
She’s not alone. Twenty-four others also have purchased lots from developer Jimmy Mason.
County: It’s A Subdivision, Not An RV Park
Mason’s problems began when he decided to sell lots rather than rent them to RV owners, Mcintosh County Attorney Jim Coppage said. Selling off the lots made the development a subdivision rather than an RV park, and county ordinances regulate lot sizes in subdivisions.
“His platted RV park spaces are undersized,” Coppage said. “They do not comply with current county ordinances, nor do they comply with state requirements related to sewage disposal.”
The lots, Coppage said, are 1/8 to 1/12 of an acre.
But Mason said he worked closely with county officials as he made his plans.
“I met with them twice and they told me they’d work it out somehow,” he said. He said he was told his plans for a central sewage system were acceptable.
He said he did not inform the county, however, when he decided to sell the 80 lots on the 13-acre site instead of renting them. Such RV developments operate in north Georgia and in other states, he said.
“I wasn’t planning on selling them when I first started, but I figured I could sell them and come out better, and they were going like hotcakes,” he said.
He said he did not inform the county because he did not know he needed to.
“The property was cut up into lots when the plat was recorded,” he said. “I thought I had the right to sell them. You don’t have to ask the county when you try to sell your house, do you?”
During its meeting Monday (Feb. 23), the county commission directed Coppage to get an injunction to stop Mason from selling more lots. Mason said he’s already stopped.
“The county’s had me stopped for six months and it’s cost me $25,000 in interest,” he said. “They say it’s a subdivision. It’s not a subdivision, it’s an RV park.”
The county tried to make Mason’s plan work, even after he decided to sell his lots, Coppage said.
“The county explored every possibility for accommodating the developer, but after consulting with land-use experts, decided this situation cannot be remedied,” he said.
Williams blames the county and Mason for her predicament. She said the county had to be aware that the lots were being sold because the deeds were recorded at the county courthouse.
“I feel McIntosh County is at least a little bit responsible,” she said.
She’s given up her dream of a coastal getaway, and now wants a refund: “I want my money back. They can keep the lot.”

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