Tennessee Commission Punts on Campground Issue
The Blount County Commission in East Tennessee on Tuesday got an earful from concerned citizens about a proposal to allow commercial campgrounds in some residential sections of the county — and apparently listened.
Meeting as the Agenda Committee, commissioners kicked a proposed zoning amendment back to the planning commission for revision for the third time. The resolution would have allowed campgrounds to be built up to 5,000 feet down roads that directly intersect with those specified in the proposed regulations. These include generally the Highway 411 North corridor leading to Maryville, Highway 321 corridor leading to Townsend, and the Highway 129 corridor leading to Tallassee.
The proposed regulations would allow recreational vehicles to camp at a campground for up to 270 days. The campgrounds could be built on a minimum five-acre plot, The Maryville Daily Times reported.
Every commissioner present voted against placing the zoning amendment on the agenda of the commission’s Nov. 17 meeting, automatically sending it back to the planning commission.
Commissioner Jim Folts said he didn’t understand why the resolution had come back for consideration in the first place.
“The proposal died for lack of a second (in April),” he said. “The same proposal is back again. None of the citizen comments in April were included in the new one. Tonight we heard more good citizen comments. The resolution does not belong on the commission agenda. It should be sent back to the planning commission with a very simple message: ‘Start listening to the citizens.’ This ought to die right here now.”
The resolution’s sponsor, Commissioner Gordon Wright, said there were misconceptions regarding the proposal and that applications to build campgrounds could be turned down if the infrastructure in an area were not able to support it. “It would require a special exception (from the Board of Zoning Appeals).”
Commissioner Kenneth Melton voiced his opposition to the amendment “I’d hate to see 100 spots in there (on a five-acre plot),” he said. “And, 100 campers, I can’t visualize. That in my opinion is absolutely too many. … I can’t go with this. I will vote to send it on to the commission, just to kill it — if you want me to be honest about it.”
Wright said that, currently, someone could build a commercial campground in some areas of the county without the guidance of any design regulations. Currently, commercial campgrounds cannot be built in the R-1 zones, but they can be built in the Suburbanizing, Commercial, and R-2 Zones with the granting of a special exception. Planning Director John Lamb told commissioners that there are currently no design standards for campgrounds in county regulations.
To a person, public comment was against the proposal
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