Jun 30 2006
12:23 pm

In case you missed it from earlier in the week, The Maryville Daily Times says developers have cleared all the hurdles for a new, upscale mountaintop development in Blount County:


The Blount County Planning Commission lifted a four-lot per year development limit Thursday on a controversial Chilhowee Mountain subdivision.


The Overlook at Montvale is an 80-lot subdivision being developed off Happy Valley Road by Harmony Property Group.

Citing county subdivision regulations, planning commissioners set the limit to lessen the impact on Blount County schools considered "intolerable" because of overcrowding.

Using information from six other Blount County mountain developments, Tomiczek argued that the new homes would not have a significant impact on county schools. Current interest in the Overlook indicates that "no children would be added to Blount County Schools," he said.


Given the cost of a lot at the Overlook ($225,000 to $495,000), Commissioner Rick Brownlie wasn't moved by evidence of their use as second homes. He voted against lifting the development limit.

As part of the deal, the developer has agreed to purchase Camp Montvale and lease it back to a community group seeking to save it. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Harmony has said if its development is allowed to proceed, it would purchase the 400-acre Camp Montvale and lease it back to Friends of Camp Montvale, which wants to continue to operate it as a youth camp. Camp Montvale is owned by the YMCA of East Tennessee, but the Y said several months ago that Montvale would be closed because it had become a financial drain on the organization.

According to the article, homeowners in the area aren't satisfied with the compromise:

But an organization of Happy Valley landowners, while not necessarily unsupportive of Camp Montvale, fears the Overlook will endanger their homes' water supply in both quality and quantity. In addition, they question the adequacy of the primary road serving the Overlook and say septic runoff from the development may endanger some fragile species of fish in Abrams Creek, which runs into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Jim Phillips, vice president of the Happy Valley Community Club, said the Planning Commission has never addressed their concerns, only those pertaining to infrastructure and schools.

"No one is addressing the issues we are bringing up," he said Monday.

He said Harmony has been able to "quiet the conservation groups by holding Camp Montvale hostage, so to speak. The ecological issues have been bypassed."

This appears to be a trend with developers seeking desirable lakeside and mountaintop property in East Tennessee, similar to TVA land swap deals with lakefront gated community developers.

I wish the Friends of Camp Montvale the best of luck in working out a lease and finding money to keep Camp Montvale operating, although it isn't clear how they expect to be successful when YMCA wasn't. It would be unfortunate if the camp had to close again in a few years for lack of funding and the developer had to take back the land. I also hope someone goes over the lease with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there aren't any loopholes that might force the developer to take back control of the land.

metuljx's picture

You'd think

What with all the money pumping around in the world for philanthropy, there would be a TN millionare or two who would endow a camp for kids, hang his or her name on it and get oooooooodles of good karma. You would think. Bill Gates is eradicating 20 diseases. You, Mr GOBer with cash to spare, could have the "Camp Montvale, a summer camp privately endowed by the Haslam family" or what not.

StaceyDiamond's picture

Camp Montvale

The Haslams and Alexanders have poored money into Blackberry Farms, that's not a bad idea for Montvale. I hate that they may have made a deal with the devil just to keep the camp open. Stacey

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