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Planning commission tables “glamping” site special use permit

Thursday, Jun. 1, 2023–5:19 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

Following a lengthy discussion, the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission voted to table a request for a special use permit for a camping site near Cave Spring Thursday.

The applicant, Andrew Devon, told the planning commission that he grew up on the land before spending several years traveling around the world, expanding himself spiritually, and learning different cultures and practices that have connected him more deeply to nature.  His intention is to create a space where friends, family, and others can camp and enjoy the land.

However, the plans for glamping — glamor camping — sites for overnight stays have led to concerns from adjoining property owners and planning staff. The only access to the property from Morgan Dairy Road is a narrow gravel drive that runs through several other properties. Staff also expressed concerns regarding access for emergency services and the lack of a proper septic system.

“We’ve had quite a few comments from environmental health, which is Shane Hendrix at the health department,” said assistant planning director Brice Wood. “It would require a septic tank. There is no sewer anywhere nearby. There is no public water on the property, so a well would be required.”

Although plans are for space for seven to nine tents, Wood told the planning commission that the campground ordinance does not distinguish between tents, campers, RVs, or cabins.

“It also has no density restrictions,” Wood added. “Right now, you’re showing nine campsites, but a blanket approval wouldn’t prevent potentially a hundred campsites.”

Wood added that it is already a non-conforming piece of property.

None of the neighbors are supportive of the plan, and several spoke during the planning commission meeting. Some cited concerns about safety, traffic, and having strangers camping so close to their homes.

Devon responded.

“If we would have had this discussion, and if you would have voiced these concerns about the safety of your children and the serious issues with the driveway, I most likely wouldn’t have even filed the permit,” Devon said. “The last thing I want to do is create any animosity between the neighbors and the community.”

Planning Commission member Charles Love initially made a motion to approve the application, which was seconded by Tom Bennett. However, after additional discussion, Bennett withdrew his second. The motion then died for lack of a second. Love then made a motion to postpone – or table- the application to give Devon additional time to submit a site plan and provide more details regarding an alternative ingress and egress to the property. That motion was approved unanimously.

Other planning commission action

The planning commission is recommending approval of a rezoning request for property fronting Ford Street and Old Lindale Road just north of the Kellogg Bakery operation.

The owner is seeking Heavy Industrial zoning to provide access to an existing HI site. Since a minimum of five acres is required for HI zoning, staff recommended a condition that the property be merged with the nearby larger tract.

The planning commission also approved a rezoning request for a house at 401 E. First St. The owner is seeking a change from Office-Institutional to Neighborhood Office-Commercial zoning. The owner wants to use the structure, which has been an office in the past, as a residence.

The Rome City Commission will have the final says on both rezoning requests during its June 20 meeting.

A rezoning application for a 72-unit apartment complex North Second Avenue area was withdrawn by the applicant prior to Thursday’s planning commission meeting.