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Proposed bike park stirs uprising in Green River

A physician who opened Ride Kanuga Bike Park two years ago wants to develop another mountain bike course and RV park in the Green River community, an idea that’s triggered an uprising of residents opposed to commercial uses.

Called Ride Rock Creek, the 326-acre park would open on West Rock Creek Road if the Henderson County Zoning Board of Adjustment grants two special-use permits needed for the bike trails and an RV park. The developer is David LaMond, a mountain bike enthusiast and physician who heads the Blue Sky MD Health family practice in downtown Hendersonville.

In addition to the mountain bike park, LaMond wants to provide 20 van camping spaces of 2,000 square feet each and repurpose an existing single-family home, a garage with an apartment and a cabin to serve the mountain bike park. He wants to convert the home into a general store, use the garage as the check-in area and convert the cabin into a bathhouse. The site plan also shows two new structures — an “adventure center” and a second bathhouse to serve the van campers.

Plans also call for a mile and a half of new roadway, a total of 185 parking spaces, nine handicapped parking spaces and proposed septic locations for the existing and future structures. The development would leave 98 percent of the mostly wooded land in open space.

But LaMond’s proposal, which was scheduled to go before the Henderson County Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, faces a challenge from the same “keep Green River green” forces whose strong opposition killed a proposal for a 20-room inn on an isolated mountaintop off Cabin Creek Road.

LaMond said he’s fighting false portrayals of the project, which he says will look more like a conservation easement than an intense commercial use.

Ben Capps, a grading company owner whose property adjoins LaMond’s, said a meeting on the site with the physician allayed some of his concerns.

“There was rumors getting around that there was going to be racing every week,” which he learned was not true, he said. “But it’s still going to be a lot of traffic on our little country road that is not set up for that. We’re not against it but we’re against some of the stuff that he’s got proposed that he wants to do.”

The campground, for instance, would be only 150 feet from his aunt’s house.

“So we’re not for the campground because a campground next to your house (could mean) different people coming in and staying in it and drinking and partying and stuff like that,” he said.

He said residents may ask LaMond to move the campsites farther away from the property line or ask the Zoning Board of Adjustment to make that a condition if it approves his application.


‘A ton of misinformation’

LaMond said that the harsh opposition since word got out about his plans has made for an unpleasant experience.

“I know there’s been a lot of conflict out there,” he said. “There’s been a ton of misinformation and there’s two or three outliers down there. They’ve been harassing us. They’ve harassed me personally. They’ve made it hard on my family. They’ve called the office. All my immediate neighbors down there are fine. There’s a handful of people that think that Coney Island’s going in out there.”

The current R2R rural residential zoning would allow a subdivision or other uses that would be far more disruptive than a mountain bike course, he said. When he bought the property, there were two other “full-ask offers,” he said. One was a corporation that had “over a billion in assets and obviously would develop the land eventually. They’re going to put homes on there. The other was a large commercial outfit that does resorts. They would have developed it and that would have been more what they’re picturing that they’re actually fighting against, as opposed to some simple mountain bike trails and a handful of people out on the trails.”

Neighbors also are exaggerating the impact of the commercial uses he’s proposed, he said.

“They’re picking on various terms like general store, they’re imagining people coming off the highway to go to a store but really it’s basically a bike rental shop doing small light retail (in) T-shirts, etc.,” he said.

A delay in the Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing, which he thinks opponents may ask for because they just hired an attorney on Friday, could jeopardize an economic development grant he received and push the project’s start from the fall to next spring.

“If they fight this conservation effort, what they’re going to do is force me to sell it back to the developers,” he said. “If they stop all the plans for trails and development and delay opening significantly, which they will, it’ll force my hand to do something else.”

Noise ‘will carry through the valley’

Terry Maybin says the Green River Community Association, which she serves as president, has not taken a position on the development request. She lives near the site with her husband, Homer, one of 14 Maybin siblings from the pioneer Green River family that has farmed the land since the early 1800s. She was involved in the Green River-Tuxedo-Zirconia Small Area Plan, a community-driven land-use plan that recommended preserving the rural character of the farming community.

“Of course, personally I’m against it because I live on Rock Creek,” she said. “We’d like to keep our rural area. Like everyone says, we’re the last part of Henderson County that has it and of course we want to keep it because my family was raised on farmland and farming was their living. With this RV park, there will be a lot of noise — music and things like that — and it will carry through the valley and we would be able to hear that.”

LaMond describes himself and his team as “professional trail builders” who have done projects in Alabama, Tennessee and Costa Rica.

“This property is something I want to be a legacy property and to preserve the land for myself and my family long-term,” he said. “I don’t want to junk it up with a bunch of stuff because I intend to potentially retire down there. I love it. But the neighbors are making it not so pleasant.”