A retiree and his son got the OK they needed from planning commissioners on Monday to open a 13-acre, tent-only campground on 42 acres of forested property in Bakewell, atop the Cumberland Plateau near the Hamilton-Bledsoe County line.
David Taylor Sr. and his son, David Taylor Jr., also got a preliminary nod from planners to build a 1,200-foot-long, 100-foot-wide sod airfield for their personal use adjacent to the campground. Hamilton County commissioners will have the final say on the airfield next month.
Both Taylors have pilot licences, and the younger is a former military flier. They were represented at Monday's meeting by local architect Allen Jones.
Jones said the elder Taylor, in his retirement, intends to relocate to Bakewell and build a house on the 42 acres of land he owns. The campground is intended to provide a retirement income.
The younger Taylor also is expected to build a house on-site atop the plateau in Bakewell. The father and son will operate and maintain the campground and airstrip, according to Jones.
The campground will have 20 campsites, with 10 yurts (portable, sturdier tents on raised platforms with frames covered by fabric) and 10 traditional campsites for smaller, more traditional tents.
Amenities will be at a minimum, with basic restroom facilities and a shared fire pit. The only electricity at the campground will be produced by solar panels, and will be more for the airfield than campers. Wells and a septic system will serve the restrooms.
"It really is a bare bones campsite," said Jones.
Still, some neighbors of the Taylors' Bakewel property are unsure about what's to come.
Barron Hodges, who owns nearly 49 acres to the south of the Taylors' property, said at Monday's meeting that he has concerns about small planes flying in and out of the proposed airfield, above the house he plans on someday building.
Hodges said he likes to shoot skeet on his property, and "if [Taylor] has an airstrip above our house, it might be a conflict of interests."
But Hodges also has questions about his own safety.
"I'm worried about my kids out in the yard, that they're going to have a plane land on them, because of mechanical failure," he said.
Another neighbor, Harvey Anderson, said there are already problems with ultralight — motorized gliders — aircraft flying low over the area.
"We have made several complaints to the FAA about ultralight aircraft flying very low over the area," he said.
Planning commissioners sought to sooth Hodges' and Anderson's concerns by adding a condition requiring the Taylors to take off and land from the northern end of their grass airfield.
The special airfield permit must be approved by county commissioners next month. Planning commissioners agreed to send the proposal on, with the stipulation that the airfield be used for no more than 10 half-hour flights per month.
The airfield can also only be used by the property owners, and never for commercial purposes. The airfield will be unlit, and all flights have to take place during the day.
The special campground permit got its only required approval Monday.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6480.