Macon considers floodplain moratorium
A countywide moratorium on floodplain and watershed development in Macon gained some momentum following the town of Franklin’s decision to formally express concern over a proposed RV community.
The development proposal calls for 185 RV sites on 48 acres alongside Cartoogechaye Creek, about 1.6 miles upstream from where the town collects its drinking water.
Developer Peter Shipps, who is based in North Point, Fla., has described the RV community as a high-end development with sites selling for between $80,000 and $200,000. Deed restrictions would mandate that only top-of-the-line, Class A RVs could use the site, and the community would contain a dining hall, exercise facility, sauna and other amenities in a community lodge.
“This is not an aesthetics issue with me,” said Alderman Bob Scott. “My concern is strictly that of protecting the town’s water supply coming out of Cartoogechaye.”
Public hearing set
Scott, during the July 2 meeting that led to the town’s formal expression of concern, urged his fellow aldermen to take a stronger stance. He wanted an outright declaration of support for a moratorium, which would give Macon County time to write regulations for floodplain and watershed development.
Macon County commissioners will hold a public hearing July 16 at 6:30 p.m. on whether to enact the moratorium.
County Planner Stacey Guffey said it could take up to 11 months to develop regulations governing floodplain and watershed development, though the process possibly could be accelerated.
Like Scott, Guffey said the issue is not one of taste — he said the county’s focus is public safety. The current regulations do not address evacuation plans in the event of flooding, Guffey said.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “What happens if one is overturned in a flood?”
‘We want to do it right’
Shipps said that while he sympathizes with the concerns his RV proposal has triggered, he believes that the reactions are premature and that they would be allayed once actual plans are submitted.
“I think the moratorium is probably a rush to something that isn’t necessary, but we all have to be comfortable,” he said. “We’re not pressed to do this in a hurry. We want to do it right.”
Shipps’ company has an extensive background in developing residential and office and commercial spaces. This is his first foray into building an RV community. He said he could not pinpoint when the plans would be submitted, as they are still being completed.
The developer also said he believes the reaction is the result of a preliminary meeting that his company initiated to let the community know what was proposed. During a meeting with homeowner groups, Shipps said he showed residents conceptual designs and a site plan.
Asked if he regretted holding the meeting, the developer said he does not.
“It’s part of the process,” Shipps said.
George Baumann, president of Heritage Hills Homeowners Association, said he believes an RV community could threaten wells in the area, plus would pose an environmental threat to the town’s drinking water.
“It’s about time we have some sensible restrictions on growth and development,” Baumann said, adding that he would have liked town leaders to follow Scott’s suggestion and voice outright support for a moratorium.