Carter planners approve development near Watauga Lake

John Thompson • Updated Mar 26, 2019 at 9:11 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Planning Commission gave unanimous approval Tuesday afternoon to a proposal to build an upscale resort and convention center in the Butler area of Watauga Lake.

Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler said the property is being developed by Daniel Goodhall, who was a successful California businessman before he came across Watauga Lake during his business trips to Charlotte, North Carolina. Schuettler said Goodhall was so inspired by the beauty of the mountain-rimmed lake that he began encouraging his family to relocate to Carter County and then began considering how to develop the potential of the lake.

Shuettler said he has been in discussions with Goodhall for three years, even before any property suitable for development was available. Schuettler said Goodhall now owns a 130-acre tract of property with views of the lake. The property includes less than an acre and half of land that provides access to the lake. The property is in the Butler area off U.S. Highway 321, with views westward toward Old Fish Springs. Schuettler said the scenery will remain pristine because most of the land around the lake is owned by the Cherokee National Forest.

Although years of discussions have gone into the project, Schuettler said Goodhall did not attend Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting because he has a son who is getting married outside Tennessee on Friday. Schuettler spoke about Goodhall’s plans and the arrangements already made with contractors. Several members of the Goodhall family attended the meeting.

The plans are to develop the property in three phases, maintaining the natural beauty that attracted the Goodhalls to the area. The first phase was presented to the Planning Commission on Tuesday. It consists of a 22-unit motel and a restaurant with seating for 75 to 100. Schuettler said the initial phase would employ approximately 50 people.

The second and third phases would be more ambitious, with a shopping village, convention center and other large-scale operations that could bring employment to as much as 500.

Companies working on the first phase of the development include: LDA Engineering, providing site preparation; Ken Ross Architects, providing the architecture work; Summers-Taylor, providing the grading; Burleson Construction, providing the construction; and Brotherton Environmental, providing the sewage and stormwater work construction.

While the planners were in unanimous agreement, several residents attended the meeting and expressed concerns over the development and its impact on such areas as traffic.

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