Council taps brakes on new RV park

A proposed 82-lot park for recreational vehicles located adjacent to Valley Pines Golf Course and Ira Higdon Grocery Company off Alton Hall Road is under consideration by the Cairo City Council.
City officials ordered David McQuary to cease work on the project last week because none of the necessary permits had been approved.
McQuary and his attorney, K. Todd Butler, appeared before the mayor and council Monday night seeking approval for the conditional use permit sought for the RV park.
Attorney Butler reminded councilmen that McQuary’s request is for a conditional use and not a zoning change. The property is currently zoned for light industrial use, but the plan is for the creation of Grady County’s only RV park.
According to Butler, the RV park would be an economic engine for the community and would attract not only customers to the nine-hole, public golf course, but visitors who would patronize local stores and restaurants.
“The question is whether the city leadership supports economic development or not,” Butler said.
McQuary shared  with council his plan, which includes establishment of a 60-80 foot buffer to shield his park from the road. He said he is basing his development on a similar project in Dade City, Fla.
The manager of the local public golf course said that he came up with the idea when golfers playing here mentioned that they and their friends were staying at an RV park in Thomas County because there is none located in Grady County.
“I couldn’t imagine you would not see the benefit of this to the community. We’ve done good projects up here. This is not going to be a mobile home subdivision ever,” McQuary said.
McQuary said visitors would not be allowed to stay more than 180 days. In addition to the 82 lots, the park would include a playground area, walking trail, bath house and laundromat.
“I don’t understand the difficulty,” McQuary said.
Mayor Richard VanLandingham told McQuary that “no one is against you,” but reminded him this was the first time the council had seen his plans and it is the first project of its kind to be developed in the city.
“We’re in favor of economic development, but at the same time we must do what is in the best interests of the city in both the short and long term. We’re not necessarily against the project, we just have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” the mayor said.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas, whose district includes the area to be developed, noted that none of the previous projects presented by McQuary to the city council had ever turned out as originally presented.
“When you first came to the city, that golf course was going to be a driving range and turf farm. That’s not how it turned out, and the city even had to stop work on it because of the lack of proper permits,” Douglas said.
He added, “I have a hard time really being able to comprehend what you say you’re going to do is what it will turn out to be.”
The mayor agreed and said that the city’s relationship with McQuary is “tainted.”
City Building Official Brian Hayes told councilmen Monday night that the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources would have to approve the sewer system for the RV park and stated that the system would have to be engineered, none of which has been done.
According to Hayes, a lift station would also have to be installed on site to pump the sewage away from the park.
“There are a lot of questions that we need answers for, and we’re not going to get rushed into making a decision in the next 30 minutes without understanding all the details of a project we have no experience with,” the mayor said.
“I’ve studied it enough that I think I can answer any question,” McQuary responded.
The mayor answered, “Don’t take this personally. We are just trying to do what is best for the city.”
City officials have concerns about water and electric hookups, concrete pads, interior roads and possible wetlands issues.
The current plan is for 35 X 60 foot lots, but McQuary said he may expand to 40 X 60 ft. lots. He commented, “We’re not going to allow tents, and we’re not going to have rough people out there.”
After further discussion, the mayor wrapped up the discussion by thanking McQuary for his interest in investing in the community and suggested that he meet with the city manager and building officials to bring back a final plan for the council’s consideration at its April 13 meeting.
The council voted unanimously to postpone action on McQuary’s request for a conditional use permit until the first meeting in April.

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