Tennessee Community Seeks Direction on Park Regs

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June 25, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

The Blount County Planning Commission spent part of its Thursday (June 24) meeting trying to read the mind of the county commission.

The county commission in May punted a proposal to allow commercial campgrounds of five acres or more in tourist-oriented areas back to the planning commission for more discussion, the second time within a year, according to the Maryville Daily Times.

At the meeting, county commissioners had expressed preferences such as removing U.S. 321 through Wears Valley from the list of allowed areas, having camping cabins taken out of the regulations, increasing the minimum size to 10 acres and adding requirements to combat light pollution; however, no commissioners, other than those appointed to the planning commission, attended the meeting to express their concerns directly.

Short of holding a workshop with the full county commission, Stucky said he didn't know what to do at this point. “I don't know how we move this off the dime.”

The planning commission directed Planning Director John Lamb to dig into tapes of the last county commission meeting to research the concerns that had been expressed. The commissioners also wondered how the new county commission, which takes office in September, would greet the proposal.

“We are in a tentative situation,” Stucky said. “There will be a commission meeting in July. It may be that we have to wait until things settle down.”

Townsend business owner Don Headrick, who attended the meeting, did offer some input for the planning commissioners.

“Maybe the commission needs to look real hard for giving more opportunities for campgrounds in Townsend,” he said.

After talking with existing campground owners, Headrick said he learned that they don't encourage long-term stays at the campgrounds.

“You don't want long-term stays,” he said. “You don't want someone to come in for more than, say, 30 days. You want to move them in, move them out.”

Planning Commissioner Clifford Walker argued in favor of keeping the camping cabins in the proposal.

The proposal had already been revised to prohibit campgrounds in the R-1 zone. The minimum size for a commercial campground would be five acres, but some county commissioners advocate for 10 acres.

A 10-acre minimize size would be too large, Headrick said. “It really leaves Tuckalechee Cove hung out to dry when you look at it.

“A lot of people are going to want 10 acres on these campgrounds,” he said. “You would be pressed to find three or four sites … where you could put a campground with 10 acres,”

Headrick said that campgrounds in Townsend range from 3.5 to 13 acres with 49 to 140 campsites

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