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Scott County supervisors consider more parking near Devil’s Bathtub

Holly Viers • Oct 8, 2017 at 12:00 PM

GATE CITY -– The Scott County Board of Supervisors has approved an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance, which will allow parking by special permit in agricultural or residential zones, such as the Devil’s Bathtub area.

The BOS approved the amendment during a public hearing at its monthly meeting on Wednesday. Chairman David Redwine pointed out that the amendment does not approve parking near Devil’s Bathtub or any other agricultural or residential area in Scott County; it simply allows for the possibility of parking in such areas in the future.

Before someone could create a parking lot in one of these areas, Redwine said, “They would have to apply for a special use permit, and then they would have to go back through the process: the Planning Commission and a public hearing of this board.”

Terry Begley, who addressed the BOS Wednesday, said he lives off Big Stoney Creek Road next to the Devil’s Bathtub. He said he owns land near the attraction that he would like to use as a parking area for visitors.

“We ran it for a couple weekends to try it to see how it was going to work … and we were actually parking 80 vehicles a day, so that’s how much tourism is coming into that area,” Begley said. “By allowing us to be able to open up this parking lot and do this, it’s going to mitigate the hazards of all of them parking on the road.”

Begley said he got positive feedback from all the visitors who parked on his land. He added that if his parking area is approved and all goes well, he might consider developing his property even further.

“We would love to be able to make this work … and possibly if things go well and we can get this going, we could do even bigger things (like) opening up a store and everything there for this, because all of them have asked us, ‘Where’s the closest store? Where’s this and that?’ ”

The BOS also examined a letter from Felipe Cano, acting district ranger for the Clinch Ranger District, about the Devil’s Bathtub situation. A portion of the letter reads, “The current unrestrained parking is diminishing the recreation experience and creating unsafe conditions for adjacent private land owners.”

The letter goes on to say that the Clinch District “applaud(s) the Scott County Supervisors for engaging with us to find solutions that work for the county, the Forest Service and our visitors.”

BOS members Jack Compton, Danny Mann and Darrel Jeter all voiced support for the amendment. Mann pointed out that a similar system has been in place at Bristol Motor Speedway during race weekends.

“If you go over there, there’s campers in yards, there’s cars in yards, and they turn (it) into a little money-making venture for them,” Mann said. “So why can’t Scott County do the same and reap some benefits?”

The next meeting of the BOS will be Nov. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

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