By Tamas Mondovics

Carter County Planning Commission chairman, Chris Schuettler, right, talks about the new 130-acre Watauga Lake Resort project in Carter County in the Butler Johnson County TN area. The project is promising a sizable economic impact for all surrounding counties, including Johnson County.
Photo by Tamas Mondovics

The revealing of a 130-plus-acre resort in Carter County boarding the Johnson County line in the Butler area made headlines last week as well as prompting local officials to weigh in on the new facility’s local impact.
Following a lengthy discussion, the Carter County Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the conceptual designs for the three-phase $30 to 45 million resort project that will feature a 22-room inn, restaurant, a community village, including cottages, condos, and vacation rentals as well as an ice skating rink.
The project located off Highway 67 near Butler is developed by California native and Carter County resident Daniel Goodhall.
While understanding the fact that its neighbor will feel the main impact of the new resort to the north, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor was optimistic of the many potential economic benefits for Butler and
Mountain City area communities.
For starters, the new resort is located close enough for jobs,” Taylor said commenting on the 500-plus jobs that the new resort is promising to bring to the region.
Taylor emphasized the benefits including enhancement of local tourism for the Doe Mountain region as well as restaurants.
Regionally, it will be beneficial for all of us,” Taylor said.
Of course, as it is the case with all such projects, the new resort is not immune to concerns including those pointed out by residents from both counties.
One concern pointed to the resort affecting the natural landscape of the Watauga Lake shoreline and mountains.
Carter County Planning Commission chairman, Chris Schuettler, said that the resort would have a rustic look that will blend into its surroundings while not blocking views of the sunset off Watauga Lake.
“This will be more environmentally sound than if 200 or so homes were built in the same area,” he said. “Measures will be taken to protect against negative effects on the environment.”
Emphasizing the resort’s economic impact and benefits Schuettler said, “This will benefit all surrounding counties including Johnson County.”
One of the other concerns was the resort’s effect on traffic on Highway 321, which connects with Highway 67. Schuettler ensured that the impacts on traffic would be minimal on both Highway 67 and 321 but suggested that if the resident wanted a traffic-impact study to be done on the project that they would need to address the Carter County Highway Committee which can petition TDOT to do a study.
Commenting on the potential traffic issues, Taylor said he hopes that Carter County officials look at the road issues and that a traffic study will be done to address the issue.
“Over all and regionally this will be a benefit for all of us,” Taylor said.
Acknowledging that the project will “bring people right to our front door” Taylor emphasized that the project is an opportunity for Johnson County.
“This means that our work now is to capitalize on the opportunity we are given to benefit our county and our region.”
The first phase, the
22-room inn and Farm
Table restaurant is slated
for competition in late
spring and early summer of 2020.