Monteagle: Dubose Property Rezoned, Three Streets Abandoned
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Nov. 7 meeting, the Monteagle Planning Commission voted to rezone the Dubose Conference Center property from Institutional Development to Commercial C-2 and to abandon three roads in the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA). By a single-vote margin, the commission again refused the Hideaway developers request for a full-access entrance on Wren’s Nest Avenue.
The developer’s plans for the Dubose Conference Center property call for a restaurant, boutique hotel with one- and two-bedroom units, hiking trails, racket-sport courts, and event space in the former chapel. Dubose Partners representative Trevor Cross stressed buildings with National Historic Register designation and other buildings with historic significance would be preserved. Town Planner Jonathan Rush said Dubose Partners was not an “institution” and could not develop the property unless the zoning was changed.
The Assembly had acquired all the property on Sunset Rock, Sunset Bluff, and Warren’s Point roads, said Executive Director Scott Parrish, explaining the reason for MSSA asking the city to abandon the roads. As the campus expanded, the assembly wanted to encourage walking and limit vehicle traffic. Acknowledging the public enjoyed visiting overlooks accessed by these roads, Parrish said visiting would not be restricted, and visitors could enter through the main gate. Two of the four residences on the property will be “returned to nature” and the other two will be used as guest homes. By the stipulations agreed on in abandoning the streets, the Assembly will assume responsibility for maintaining the water line. Commissioners Mayor Greg Maloof and Chair Ed Provost recused themselves from the vote since they reside in the Assembly.
Presenting his request the commission reconsider the unanimous March vote to limit the Wren’s Nest Avenue entrance to emergency access only, Hideaway developer Tom Kale said the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) claimed the proposed roundabout would address traffic congestion at the Wren’s Nest-Main Street intersection. TDOT called for construction to begin in 2026. Commissioner Dan Brown expressed concern the roundabout would not sufficiently resolve traffic issues. Maloof said it was his “understanding” the roundabout would slow traffic, but he was uncertain about the timeline. A resident also questioned whether the residential development and roundabout project would coincide. Kale conceded he could not predict how long it would take for all the lots to sell. Kale added, without a Wren’s Nest entrance, the 82 property owners would be “trapped” if the Highway 41 entrance was blocked. A resident expressed reservations about the commission voting with three commissioners absent. City attorney Sam Elliot said he was “uncomfortable” with delaying the vote another 30 days” since the project had been stalled since March.
Maloof and Commissioner Dan Sargent voted in favor of allowing full access at the Wren’s Nest entrance, with Black, Brown and Provost opposed. “Nothing has changed my mind,” Black said explaining his decision. Brown said he was “not convinced” the roundabout changes would address traffic concerns. Provost maintained, “The initial [restricted access] proposal was reasonable and in the best interest of the community.”
In October, the commission rescinded the recommendation to make 800 square feet the minimum residence size city wide and requested more information from the town planners. The minimum residence size for R-1 is 800 square feet; for R-2 and R-3, the minimum is 600 square feet. However, Monteagle did not define apartment size in R-3 multi-family dwellings, Rush said, noting studio apartments could be as small as 300 square feet. The average apartment size in Monteagle is 420 square feet. Apartment size was “market driven,” Provost said. He proposed an 800 square foot minimum for single family homes and not specifying the size for multifamily units. The planners will draft an ordinance incorporating Provost’s proposal.