TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WATE) — The City of Townsend’s Planning Commission met Thursday night to discuss the possibility of a new resort in the area. However, no action was taken due to a rescheduling of the agenda item.
Ahead of the scheduled planning commission session, the developer asked to defer the request to a future meeting, according to Townsend Mayor Don Prater.
Prater shared the following update on Friday:
A couple of hours before the meeting the developer asked to defer the re-zoning request to a future meeting. Therefore, no action was taken by the Planning Commission.
Nevertheless, we had a number of citizens and folks from our local community turn out. They filled our auditorium and spilled out into the lobby.
We took public comments and answered questions for about an hour and 40 minutes, before continuing with our regular agenda.
We may look for a bigger venue for our next meeting if this topic is on the agenda.Don Prater, mayor, City of Townsend
Janet Woodby grew up in the area and her husband is a fifth-generation resident.
“Townsend is a great place, especially along the river,” Woodby said. “It’s a great place to go especially if you want to be alone, if you want to think, it’s great for that. It’s very peaceful, it’s very calming.”
She recently heard about the potential of a new development that would bring around 130 cabins and additional RV camping spots.
Woodby then started a petition to try and stop the project from proceeding that she said has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
The city and the developer, Yonder Hospitality, held a public meeting on Tuesday to answer questions and get feedback from residents.
Documents provided to meeting attendees outline the development which also includes a clubhouse, resort-quality swimming pool and drive-in movie theater. The company operates a similar site near Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah called Yonder Escalante.
“If the request is made tonight at the planning commission, it could come as soon as the June meeting of our city council or board of commissioners,” Townsend Mayor Don Prater said.
Prater said he encourages community input on the project.
“One thing that I think we’ve all noticed is that the pace of change has really quickened in Townsend and in fact, we’re in the process of updating our community plan to reflect our desire to maintain Townsend as the peaceful side of the smokes,” Prater. “We want to do that while still maintaining a high quality of life for our residents and at the same time opportunities to grow that are consistent with our values and unique character.”
“We have a responsibility to make sure that we provide a good environment for our citizens and for our visitors alike,” Prater said.
Woodby said she doesn’t think Townsend is equipped for this development and hopes city leaders agree.
“It may bring in more tax money, but we’re going to have more money that goes out than comes in,” she said.
Woodby also said she printed out all seven pages of signatures against the development which she plans to present to the planning commission.
If it moves forward, the rezoning plan would need to be passed at two board of commission meetings for developers to move forward with the project.
After the deferment Thursday night, it was unclear if the topic would be scheduled for a future meeting. We did reach out to the developers. So far we have not heard anything back.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.