Cheatham County Exchange

Cheatham County Commission approves zoning change for luxury RV park

January 2023 Cheatham County Commission Meeting (Luxury RV Park)-1
Schematic Site Design of Locker’s Southern View Luxury Motorcoach Resort.  PICTURE COURTESY OF CHEATHAM COUNTY BUILDING & CODES

The Cheatham County Commission voted 8-4 at its regular February meeting to approve a zoning change for close to 80 acres of land along River Road in Ashland City, within the county’s 5th District, which helps pave the way for developer Joey Locker to build his proposed Southern View Luxury Motorcoach Resort.

The zoning change, which was recommended 7-1 in January by the Regional Planning Commission, has been the source of regular debate among residents, the business community, and elected officials in Cheatham County since Locker first requested the zoning change in October. Numerous residents on and near River Road spoke out at the Cheatham County Commission February workshop on Feb. 21 in opposition of the zoning change. While several residents said they approve of a luxury RV park and the revenue and opportunities it can bring to the county, they objected to the location on River Road, citing concerns about flooding, traffic and the presence of Native American burial grounds on the property. A few residents said most visitors to the RV park would patronize restaurants and attractions in Bellevue and West Nashville, while placing it somewhere along Highway 12 would ensure tourism dollar traffic would stay in Cheatham County.

One resident concerned about the luxury RV park is David Davidson, who’s lived near the proposed RV park site for the last 60 years. Davidson said his main concerns are how the park will affect traffic on the road and what he perceives as a lack of experience on Locker’s part for developing and managing an RV park.

“The main thing is the safety on River Road, and when you put 300 RVs there, even if you put one RV there, it causes problems, and there have been quite a few wrecks in the last year. Also the lack of experience the builder has. The Chamber of Commerce said it’s going to bring in half a million dollars revenue, but with money spent on accidents and such, you’re not saving any money in the long run,” Davidson said.

Seth Francis of Crunk Engineering, who is the civil engineer for the project, addressed some of the residents’ concerns at the workshop. Francis said they are conducting a flood impact study and must follow certain guidelines so that the RV park will not increase flooding potential in the area, and they will conduct a traffic study, as well, to make sure the park’s presence won’t be an issue.

“We’re reviewed and monitored by the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and TEMA. We design the site so that we don’t cause flooding issues downstream. We balance the site. We have to get approvals from the entities that approve it.  Any kind of bank stabilization is something that the Army Corps of Engineers requires. Concerning traffic, TDOT is someone we have to get approval from. We have to prove to them that we’re not negatively impacting the road conditions. What that means is that we will have to conduct a traffic study. If we create delay times, we will have stipulations placed on us for roadway improvements, like turn lanes into the site. We cannot create a situation where traffic is worsening without being required to improve the traffic situation before we touched it,” Francis said.

The four county commissioners who voted against the zoning change were 5th District Eugene Evans, 6th District James Hedgepath, 2nd District Ann Jarreau and 4th District Walter Weakley. Evans stated his biggest reason for voting against the zoning change was the road, claiming, with the RV traffic traveling on the twisting and windy road, it would be dangerous and “an accident waiting to happen.”

Evans said he was also concerned about sewage from the RV park being washed out in the river. However, given the various permits and studies needed to be performed at the site by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the commissioner said, “He’s got a lot hurdles to go through, so I still don’t believe he’ll pass.”

Diana Pike-Lovell, the other 5th District commissioner, voted in favor of the zoning change, stating that with the new zoning designation, Locker would be limited in what he can do and would have to stick to the plan. Pike-Lovell said that while some of her constituents spoke out against the project, there were those who spoke in favor of it, and believes the park would be a step forward for the area.

“I believe this project would be good for our community and county. Progress is moving, and growth is coming our way. It’s important that we get to pick and choose what growth comes,” Pike-Lovell said.

According to Cheatham County Building Commissioner Franklin Wilkinson, now that Locker has gotten approval for the zoning change, he has a year to come up with and submit a final master plan to the regional planning commission for the park.

Locker said he was pleased with the county commission’s approval of the zoning change and hopes those who voted against the project will come to see the good he believes it will bring to the county.

“I was extremely happy with the vote. They are giving me a chance to bring my dream to life. Cheatham County has great leadership and I am glad to have the majority support my project. I hope to have the other leaders come visit the progress on the project so I may have the chance to change their minds. I want nothing but good for a community that is allowing me to join it,” Locker said.

When asked to respond to criticisms that he has not undertaken a project like this before, Locker said, “We are taking all precautions to ensure a successful project. I have an entire team full of engineers, consultants, construction professionals and government officials that are here to ensure we are taking all concerns seriously and mitigating any possible dangers. There will always be those who doubt your abilities but I’m not building this alone, I have built a team with more than 50 years of combined experience in the construction industry, a team that will bring an incredible project to Ashland City.”

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