County, 'Hippie Hill' campground in dispute over zoning violatio - WSMV News 4

County, 'Hippie Hill' campground in dispute over zoning violations

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It's a battle between a campground and a county. Rutherford County claims Hippie Hill in Christiana is not following the rules set for them when they were zoned three-and-a-half years ago. The people of Hippie Hill argue the orders are threatening their ability to help others.

"I did this for the people, for the homeless and for the people who just can't make it," said Thomas Maddox, referring to his Hippie Hill. "Where else are they going to go?"

Maddox, who goes by "Hippie," said he has run his campground as a refuge for the homeless for 16 years.

"I wanted to see if I couldn't get them a little education besides sitting out there on the streets and doing nothing," he said. "I'm trying to help them get off whatever they're on and go on through life."

Maddox said the place, approved as a commercial campground, is heading toward an uncertain future.

"They say we're not allowed to do this," he said.

The Rutherford County Sheriff's Department recently arrested Maddox on a charge of violation of zoning ordinance. A representative for Rutherford County Planning said the site plan given to them by Hippie Hill is lacking specifics the county wants. The representative also claimed Hippie Hill has been warned multiple times to get special approvals for events and concerts.

"The music never was a problem, and now, it's a problem," Maddox said.

Maddox argued Hippie Hill isn't a traditional music venue and most performances are just spur of the moment to entertain people there. He claimed Hippie Hill's also been told to get rid of all campers on the property. The representative for planning said he's not aware of that order, and it didn't come from the county.

"Now I'm going to have everybody and put them in tents," Maddox said. "We're going to be sleeping on the ground again. That's where these guys get their sicknesses."

Rutherford County Building Codes director Tanya Bell told Channel 4 Hippie Hill came before the Board of Zoning Appeals in 2013 to establish it as a campground. Bell said the request came after multiple complaints of noise at the location. She said the request was granted on the condition of provisions being met within a year. She said the provisions included a site plan approved by the planning department, new structure inspections, and all outdoor performances going through the use of a temporary use permit.

"The Rutherford County Planning Department and the Building Codes Department have attempted to reach out to Mr. Maddox multiple times since the BZA approval in 2013 to assist them in achieving compliance, with no response," Bell said. "As of today, none of those conditions have been met."

Bell said she was also concerned that Rutherford County Fire and Rescue was unable to get to the property during a previous building fire because of the rough road to Hippie Hill.

"I've never been bothered with this," Maddox said. "I've been doing it for 16 years, and I've never had any problems whatsoever. All my neighbors, they love it. They love what I do here. I don't know how to even go about getting those papers."

Maddox believes all of this will change Hippie Hill as it's been for so long.

"It's got a lot of potential to threaten us, very much," he said. "I have to hire a lawyer, which I haven't got the money to hire a lawyer."

Maddox said he doesn't know what comes next.

"I have no clue," he said. "I am totally speechless."

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