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Maggie Valley discusses RV park rules

Maggie Valley discusses RV park rules

A draft text amendment to a Maggie Valley ordinance concerning campgrounds and RV parks has sparked a larger conversation about the future of Maggie Valley itself. 

According to Town Manager Nathan Clark, the town has received interest from developers to be able to subdivide their proposed RV Parks, but the current approved density yield is cost prohibitive. 

At a Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen meeting June 8, there was an agenda item intended to direct the Planning Board to study and make a recommendation to council about providing campgrounds with Planned Unit Development (PUD) status. 

According to town ordinance, the purpose of the PUD status is to afford substantial advantages for greater flexibility and improved marketability through permit flexibility in building siting, mixtures of housing types and land use. Residential densities are calculated on a project basis, thus allowing the clustering of buildings to create useful open spaces and preserve natural site features. 

There are no density requirements for nonresidential uses as long as the proposed project does not violate the intent of the district in which it is located. The proposed residential density of the planned unit development shall conform to that permitted in the district in which the development is located. 

Part of the rationale for allowing campgrounds and RV parks PUD status is that Smoky View Cottages, previously a mixed-use resort, has received PUD status. The town board was reluctant to award another individual development PUD status because of the precedent it would set for allowing any campground/ RV park within the town PUD status that requested it. 

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“Council needs to decide what they want the valley to look like,” said Mayor Mike Eveland. “This will encourage others to come in, take up all the flat parcels, make a quick buck and leave.”

The primary concern for Eveland at the June 8 meeting was that the board did not have enough information and the issue had never been discussed by the board. 

“When we went to this meeting, we had no information or background stuff on it. Other than that, we just wanted to send it over to the planning board to look at and decide if they want to make any changes. That’s one of the first times we’ve had that in a long time,” said Eveland. “Typically, when we’ve done that, there’s been some background information or reasons why somebody’s asking for it or whatever the case may be. My first and primary concern was that we weren’t given that information.”

Normal procedures for such a change hadn’t been followed and some board members expressed concern about changing an ordinance that could have lasting implications for the future of the entire valley. 

When the issue was brought up again at the July 1 agenda setting meeting, the board was able to discuss the issue at length. Though the draft text amendment could affect the entire town, the issue was brought to the table by Frankie Wood, owner of Maggie Valley RV Park LLC and one developer of the coming Ghost Town revitalization

According to Wood, the RV park that he is trying to develop will not be economically feasible unless he can subdivide it into 15 lots. Without PUD status, he will only be able to get eight lots on the site. 

At the July 1 meeting, Clark presented the board with ample information regarding current town rules and ordinances, as well as what information the planning board should consider when discussing the rule change. Clark spoke to the importance of defining exactly what the town wanted to permit for campgrounds and RV parks moving forward. For instance, should PUD status be given only to Class A RVs? 

“Is this a situation where we want to allow this thing to happen because it’s a very popular trend with class A’s? Or do we want to make it available to all the fifth wheels and pull-behinds? It starts getting really definition heavy, these are the things the planning board will need to think about and evaluate,” said Clark. 

Eveland again asked for caution in making a change that would have implications for all of Maggie Valley. 

“Keep in mind, if this was just for one individual property, that would be great. But that’s not the case, we’re changing the actual rules and the ordinance. And I don’t believe that we want to open up the door for campgrounds throughout the valley,” he said. 

Wood, who was at the July 1 meeting, spoke openly with the board throughout the meeting, at one point assuring them of his intent to develop the RV park in question according to high standards. 

“I’m definitely not for the campers. The high-end RV parks, as far as the financial side making something work, to be able to beautify it, you’ve got to be able to make enough money to keep the maintenance up, keep the landscaping, keep everything done that needs to be done,” said Wood. 

According to Wood, the Citgo RV park being discussed, due to topography and other considerations, would likely be able to fit 15 subdivided lots, though the maximum density with PUD status would be 18 lots. 

The original schedule for the text amendment allowed the board of aldermen to direct the planning board to investigate and make a recommendation regarding RV PUD at its regularly scheduled board of aldermen meeting July 13. After that, the planning board would make a recommendation on text amendment. Then, 30 days are required to advertise the text amendment before reaching the board of aldermen for consideration of adoption. 

However, at the behest of Wood, who expressed his desire to begin development as soon as possible, the schedule was moved up. 

The town board will still direct the planning board to investigate and make a recommendation at its regularly scheduled, July 13 meeting. The planning board will discuss the issue at a July 15 meeting. The town board adjusted its calendar to hold the August agenda-setting meeting Aug. 10 and the regularly scheduled board meeting Aug. 17. As long as the planning board is able to make a decision at its July 15 meeting, the town board will be able to vote on a text amendment at its Aug. 17 meeting. 

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