LISTEN: Michael Parrish tells GPB's Orlando Montoya why he wanted to build a massive dragon sculpture on a North Georgia mountain, why he withdrew his proposal and how he became interested in dragons.

A mock-up of a horned, winged dragon sits on a work table with tools underneath a canopy.

Ashville, North Carolina Airbnb operator and future Hiawassee, Georgia resident Michael Parrish provided this image of a model for a massive sculpture which he proposed for his mountaintop in North Georgia, a proposal which he later withdrew after heated opposition from his future neighbors.

Credit: Michael Parrish / Earth and Sky Dwellings

A North Carolina man is backing down from a proposal to build a dragon sculpture, the size of half a football field, on top of a North Georgia mountain.

Sci-fi and fantasy fan Michael Parrish operates unusual Airbnbs, including a “Wizards Hollow” and a planned starship, out of Asheville.

He plans to retire in North Georgia’s Hiawassee and wanted to build a towering Hogwarts-style dragon sculpture on nearby Whiskey Mountain.

That is, he says, until a fiery city council meeting on Monday.

“A lot of other people loved it but a lot of other people didn’t,” Parrish told GPB on Wednesday. “I want to be a longtime resident in my remaining years in Hiawasee and I’d like to get along with everyone and it just appeared that the dragon was too controversial.”

No zoning laws prevented the sculpture, which would have been visible across the small town, and which some residents interpreted as “scary” and “nightmarish.”

The possible mountaintop dragon prompted more than 100 people to show up at the council meeting, many of them opposed to any kind of structure that large.

“I don’t care if it’s a dinosaur; I don’t care if it’s Fred Flintstone,” Hiawassee resident Victoria Barrett said. “I don’t want to look at a giant dragon distracting from our mountain scenic beauty.”

In light of the opposition, Parrish says he now plans to build a smaller dragon sculpture visible only on his property, where he also plans to build a castle-like house.

As to where he got the idea for a fire-breathing winged creature in the first place, he said that he wanted to build something “unique” based on his love of reading, which his mother instilled in him at an early age.

“The first book I ever picked up was a Ray Bradbury book,” he said. “And the next book that I picked up was from J.R.R. Tolkein. I was an avid reader because of those two gentlemen.”

The small-town battle could prompt mountain communities like Hiawassee, typically opposed to government regulation, to rethink their zoning codes.

A state law, the Mountain Protection Act, prevents structures larger than 35 feet on Georgia mountains.

But Parrish’s structure would have been 35 feet tall and 160 feet wide, meaning that only local zoning would have stopped it, had Parrish not decided to relent to the dragon-slayers.