A builder will have to move campers off a former campground in Townsend, the Board of Zoning Appeals ruled Monday.
Board members voted 2-1 to deny an appeal by Cleve and Sheila Messer and to recommend the city’s code enforcement officer work with the Messers on a time frame to have the campers off the property at 7239 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway.
Before the vote the board members said they were reluctant to name a deadline.
“I don’t know if we have the right as a BZA to say we give you a number of days or weeks,” said Ed Stucky, secretary of the board.
Board Chair Pat Jenkins voted against the motion, which Stucky made and Vice Chair Mark Chipperfield seconded.
Before the vote the Messers explained to the board that they are not operating a campground on the property adjacent to the former Family Inn, which their construction company has been converting into Cades Cove Landing condominiums.
Only they and family members stay in the campers, the Messers said, including an uncle who works as a plumber on the project and a cousin who is an electrician, and they are not charging anyone.
Although the property once was a campground, board members explained it no longer is grandfathered into the town’s zoning regulations because it was vacant before the Messers bought it. Current town regulations would not allow a campground on a parcel that size and do not allow residents to maintain campers on residential property.
The Messers currently are developing a campground outside of Townsend along Wears Valley Road and have planned to relocate the campers there. Sheila Messer explained that project has been delayed while they await a traffic study.
Cleve Messer told the board he’d eventually like to use the land where the campers now are located for an office to serve the condominiums at Cades Cove Landing and for perhaps two or three cabins.
Bill Lindsey, who chairs the condominium’s homeowners association, and his wife, June, both told the board that they appreciate having the Messers in the campers nearby to keep an eye on the property, which has few year-round residents.
Digital sign for gas station
In other action Monday the board unanimously approved a digital price sign for a gas station being rebranded from Phillips 66 to Gulf.
Although the town’s zoning regulations don’t allow LED signs, the Board of Zoning Appeals previously granted permission for two other gas stations in town to post their prices on digital signs.
The new sign for the station operated by Stephen Headrick will show the fuel price in solid red digits, 24 inches high for one product. The sign can be changed by wireless remote from inside, a safer option than the old plastic sign.
In approving the sign board members noted they previously have rejected flashing or moving marquee-style signs, but this is in line with what two other gas stations in town have.
Not allowing them to use the latest technology would put an undue burden on the business, said Stucky.