Highway Committee hears of Pleasant Beach Baptist plans

John Thompson • Jul 9, 2018 at 10:43 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Yes, Pleasant Beach Baptist Church may soon begin work on a new church off the Watauga Highway north of Elizabethton.

For years, motorists turning onto Tenn. Highway 400 from the Old Bristol Highway have noticed a large billboard that proclaimed the large property on the north bank of the Watauga River was “the future home of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church.”

On Monday, church Pastor Mark Fowler attended the meeting of the Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission. He was there on a proposed closure of a small public road on the property known as River Edge Road.

Although the church owned the property on both sides of River Edge Road, Highway Committee Chairman Mike Hill said a public hearing was necessary. He scheduled the hearing for next Monday, during the meeting of the Carter County Commission.

The church acquired the 11 acres for its new home as a result of a gift from an anonymous donor. That gift had been made several years ago, when it appeared the state’s plans to build a Northern Connector Highway on the north shore of the Watauga River meant that the property the church currently was standing on would have to be taken for the project.

The state decided not to build the Northern Connector, but the church continued to hold the land and plans to eventually locate to the beautiful 11 acres. Fowler told the Highway Committee that if all the loose ends, including the road closure, can be completed in time, the church will begin construction on the new building Aug. 1.

On another road matter, the committee deferred taking any action until after the Carter County Chancery Court can hear arguments on a petition for declaratory judgment and possible injunction on plans to use a 40-foot-wide right of way and private road to provide access to a 40-unit RV camper park on the bank of the Watauga River.

The matter came before the Highway Committee because William John Allen had made a request for the county to adopt River Island Lane as a county road.

Attorney Charles London filed the petition for injunctive relief in Chancery Court and also appeared in the Highway Committee meeting Monday to speak for the four residents of the private road who are opposed to its adoption by the county. He said the road only goes to the four residences and has always been maintained by those residents.

He said the residents were unanimous in not wanting to turn the private road over to the county. He added that Allen has another road that runs through his property that could be used to provide access to the RV park.

Kenneth Fortner said he has been a resident for 30 years, and the road had once been a small gravel path. He said local businessman Carl Ray Nidiffer had once been a resident and paved the road. Fortner said it was only paved to support the traffic of the residents and would not stand up to the heavy equipment needed to construct an RV park.

Allen also spoke and said he planned to build a nice facility that would not be a problem for the road’s residents.

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