In September the owner of the Southern Komfort Resort and Campground in Marshall County, Kentucky, said, because of the new Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) rules, many of his most loyal customers were leaving, WPSD-TV, Paducah, Ky., reported.

The owner said months later, business is down, that’s why he’s joined others in a lawsuit, asking the government to stop.

He’s mainly concerned about three things, all aimed to give everyone a fair shot at campgrounds owned by TVA but operated by private business owners.

  • Those camping must remove their decks, roofs, and porches, which they’re now able to leave to save their spot.
  • They will have to completely leave the campsite for two weeks.
  • If they want to return they must be put on a waiting list or entered into a lottery and they’re not allowed to return to the same campsite.

This is all designed to eliminate “permanent” campers.

But campground owners say it’ll only eliminate their profits, instead.

At Southern Komfort campground it’s dark and quiet. The way owner Larry Hellkamp says it should be.

Every year around this time, Hellkamp said campers go home, but most return to the same spot because they’ve left belongings behind to save it. That’s what the TVA wants to stop. Hellkamp started telling customers about the upcoming changes, after the TVA told him back in 2010.

“The result of that was a mass exodus of campers, so we’ve lived that for the past two and a half years,” Hellkamp said.

Those who don’t leave for good will have to leave for two weeks. When they return they’ll have to set up at a different spot. Because of new fees, Hellkamp’s lease with the TVA also changes.

Hellkamp said the new fees are 300% more than what he’s paying now, and that would put him out of business.

“The economic fallout that will ensue will be dramatic and in some cases devastating,” David Merritt created “Shoreline Alliance,” a group of campers taking the TVA to court.

He’s asking a judge to force the TVA to do an environmental impact study.

“No other entity should be allowed to come in and do this without first, understanding at least what impact these actions are going to have,” Merritt said.

Actions that Hellkamp fears will put him out of business, for good.

The complaint cites a 1988 federal policy that requires a study be prepared before any agency enforces rules that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Merrit said the TVA’s actions will have a negative impact on campers and the surrounding economy.

he believes a judge will agree, force the TVA to do the study and not enforce the new rules. Under the new fee structure, campground owners could chose between paying the TVA a flat rate rent or 4% of their gross income.