An RV campground with an expansive water park will be built in Callahan.
The county commission met Thursday and Monday, providing unanimous approvals within the two meetings. Callahan Country RV Resort and Water Park was originally met with objections when it was first proposed in late 2017, but received few opposing comments during the commission’s recent meetings. The resort will be created at the site of the former Deerfield Lakes Golf Course, with nine holes of golf reopening and up to 450 campsites available.
“I am for the idea of all this, but I would not like it in my backyard,” Jamie Drive resident Joe Randolph said during Thursday night’s meeting. He cited concern about noise of screaming children at a water park and the additional people coming into the area.
Callahan developer Ken Greene owns the property under the business name Angel Lakes Gated Inc. He purchased approximately 266 acres with former business partner Chad Grogan, then took sole ownership of the venture. The Record has previously reported that Greene aimed to create outdoor recreation for Callahan and the surrounding areas as a way of thanking the community for supporting his home construction business through the decades.
Cheryl Sprague, who lives at the same address as Greene, responded to Randolph’s comment.
“I know a lot of people are worried about this being in their backyard, being noisy or whatever, but there is a huge buffer between the campground, water park and the residential people outside,” she said. “I don’t think the noise is going to be a big deal. I think this area really needs something for kids to do, teenagers to work in the summer. I think it’s going to be a good thing for everybody.”
Thad Crowe, senior planner for Nassau County, presented county staff’s recommendation for approval of a Future Land Use Map change from low density residential, allowing up to 251 homes on the property, to recreation.
“In terms of traffic impact, it is a wash. We’d have the same number of daily trips whether it’s a single-family development or this use, about 2,400 daily trips,” Crowe said. “The traffic impacts are minimal. There would be a turn lane required in either direction on Lem Turner Road.”
He added that residences would have added those trips at peak travel times while an RV park’s traffic would come and go throughout the day, not adding to commuter congestion.
Commissioner Justin Taylor motioned for approval of the FLUM change, with Commissioner Thomas Ford seconding. All five commissioners voted in support of the recreation designation.
Once the FLUM amendment was approved, the application for a planned unit development (PUD 19-008) could move forward.
The property has 50 to 300 feet of tree buffer between it and neighboring properties. Greene has addressed one thinner area of concern for property owners along Dornbush Road, near the back side of the proposed water park, by planting additional trees.
But a concern over a lack of buffer near a residence on Lawhon Road caused the commission to continue the decision to Monday’s meeting.
Faye Shute lives in a home behind the proposed campground manager’s home.
“My backyard is right in the area where the restaurant and entertainment is going to be,” she said. “There is no buffer for me. I have lived there for 40 years. My residence was to be my dream retirement place, a peaceful atmosphere. This is all changing. I don’t have a problem with the water park or all of this if it wasn’t in my backyard. … My husband and I worked very hard to earn the right to live in an area that was peaceful.”
Greene said he does not have any intentions of tearing down the home he owns between Shute and the campground. He had offered to build a fence to provide an additional buffer.
“Yes, I will go along with a fence, but I do think we need more buffer there,” Shute said Thursday. “But I am willing to work with Mr. Greene on this to some degree, yes.”
Because of adding the language for a fence to the PUD, the decision was moved to Monday night. Photographs provided during that meeting show a line of trees on the back of Shute’s property and the view from the backyard of the park manager’s home in the direction of the water park. The home takes up much of the view, but Greene added language to the PUD that includes the construction of a 6-foot fence in the backyard of the manager’s home.
“I have reviewed it and it is fine,” County Attorney and Manager Mike Mullin said of the proposal added into the PUD.
Taylor motioned to approve the PUD and Ford seconded. The vote was unanimous to approve it.
The park will potentially employee up to 25 workers. It will include 450 campsites built in three phases of approximately five years each, with 150 RV sites or cabins included in each phase. The property will eventually include a nine-hole golf course, miniature golf, a water park, clay fields, a restaurant and a camp convenience store.
The first phase should be fully built out by 2025, including an entrance road, turning lanes and the initial components of the water park. The final phase will include the restaurant and camp convenience store.