Upscale development or future eyesore? Investors appeal decision to deny Mississippi luxury RV park outside college town

Published 4:50 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

An Ole Miss scientist told the Panola County Board of Supervisors she and her husband want to make a multi-million dollar investment here, but without their approval her plans for a luxury RV park will be stalled.

Dr. Premalatha Balachandran spoke to the supervisors Monday at an appeal hearing after being denied a special exception for a proposed RV park on the south side on Highway 6 at the Panola-Lafayette County line.

The county’s Land Commission turned down the application last month, with several of the board members citing their commitment to maintaining the aesthetics of the Batesville-Oxford corridor and questioning whether an RV park would be conducive to future development of the area.

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The applicants told supervisors at the appeal they believed the Land Commission made the wrong decision, not fully understanding the scope of their project. Luxury RV parks are becoming more common in the Southeast and are designed to offer upscale RV options without the stigma of properties with no regulations or security.

Instead, Dr. Balachandran said, the proposed RV park would have all paved roads, concrete pads for each RV, a community type commons building, and green spaces. Additionally, the fenced area would have walking trails and a dog park.

The supervisors told the potential investors they appreciated the effort to construct the $3 million park, but had reservations about security and self-imposed covenants. Board members did not make a decision Monday, but tabled the matter until more information could be gathered.

The supervisors asked the applicants to return for a meeting, possibly before the end of June, where they will present more detailed drawings, photos, and plans for day-to-day operations. Board members seemed open to allowing the RV park if certain conditions were met, including having a full-time employee on site around the clock for maintenance and security.

The property in question is 10 acres that join Lafayette County, including parts of the Steeplechase development. Last year the property was purchased by another investor with plans for a new convenience store on the county line.

Those plans fell through when it became apparent that parking and other issues made that project unattractive and the Oxford investors bought that tract and the adjoining acreage.

The applicants told supervisors that Ole Miss sporting events would provide a customer base, but other area festivals, youth tournaments, and various activities in the Panola-Lafayette area have created a demand for upscale RV opportunities.