Floyd County

An 81-space recreational vehicle park touted as a tourism boon is expected to open in the Rice Springs community by the summer of 2018, after the Floyd County Commission approved on Tuesday a special use permit for the property.

“We’re going to work quickly,” owner Bill Gore said. “We had been hoping to get started on this a lot sooner.”

State tourism and travel industry studies estimate the economic impact of his Rice Springs RV Resort at $1.5 million a year, according to Lisa Smith, director of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Gore said the first step for the undeveloped 21 acres is to build the entrance road, which will be off Alabama Highway, just west of Barker Road. The Georgia Department of Transportation must approve the plans, which will include acceleration and deceleration lanes.

He hopes to move his RV of Rome service shop from Shorter Avenue to the new site within six months, he said, and the rest of the development will likely take about a year.

Dozens of Barker Road and Rice Springs residents opposed the project throughout a series of hearings that started in November.

During the process, the County Commission adopted stricter rules governing the operation of RV parks and Gore made several adjustments to his site plans.

The board also is requiring an on-site caretaker, and Gore said he and his family intend to live there.

However, Barker Road spokeswoman Kelli Gonzales pointed out Tuesday that the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission had twice recommended denial — and their concerns about increased noise, crime and traffic hazards remain.

“This is our neighborhood,” she said.

County Commissioner Scotty Hancock initially moved to deny the permit, based on the planning commission’s recommendation. However, only he and Commissioner Larry Maxey voted for the denial.

Then Hancock sided with the majority of the board in the following 4-1 vote to approve the permit. Maxey remained opposed.

There had been talk of a lawsuit on both sides and, at the request of Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace, County Attorney Wade Hoyt III explained the legal issues.

Hoyt said the property was already zoned for commercial development and the board could withhold a permit only if the hearings had produced “provable facts and evidence” of an adverse effect on the surrounding area.

“It doesn’t appear” that anything other than conjecture had been submitted, he added.

In other actions Tuesday, the County Commission:

- Approved a schedule of fines for failing to register a security alarm with Floyd County 911. The one-time registration fee is $15. A $50 fine will be assessed for failure to register it within 30 days, and there will be a $100 fine if emergency responders are called out to an unregistered alarm.

County Manager Jamie McCord said the charges would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2018, to give alarm companies time to notify their customers. The companies also will be fined if they fail to do so.

- Approved an application for a state grant to create a master plan to rehabilitate the Historic Floyd County Courthouse on Fifth Avenue. McCord said the project is estimated at $48,000 and the county’s share could be up to $19,200.

- Awarded a $422,400 contract to remodel the ballroom at The Forum to the lowest responsive bidder, Top’s Services Inc. of Carrollton. The project involves replacing the wall facing the river with glass, raising the ceiling and other upgrades.

The ongoing makeover at The Forum is funded in the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package.

NOTE: This article has been updated to say the RV park is in the Rice Springs community.