Depending on how soon Planning and Zoning Article 600 is released from sub-committee, the Camden County Commission could see the codes as soon as April for approval.
Article 600 was the center of a public hearing last month and raised many concerns from the public that attended.
A majority of the concerns raised during the hearing questioned the wording of the section. Residents referred to it as ambiguous and vague, saying it left too much to interpretation and gave planning and zoning too much authority.
The first paragraph of section 604 states, "If the Administrator finds that any provision of the Unified Land Use Code is being violated, based on an appropriately filed complaint or inspection..."
The words 'or inspection' led many residents in attendance to believe that the County could conduct an inspection without notice.
The public asked for clarification on the word "inspection" along with other words like "nuisance."
The audience seemed in agreement that the potential $500 fine was simply too much. In the current Article 600, if a resident is found in violation, they could be punished by a fine up to $1,000 or a maximum of one-year imprisonment or both. The revision no longer includes imprisonment but instead includes a fine not exceeding $500.
"Those people fined $500 a day do not have the means to repair their homes will lose their homes. Those are their homes. You go and fine them $500 a day. That will affect them adversely," resident Stacy Shore said. "We want to be a part of the process, we do not want this to just happen to us."
During the more than two hour long hearing, planning and zoning commissioners tried their best to ensure residents that the codes were in place to protect them.
"Zoning is here to protect your property," Commissioner BJ Page, said. "Our intention is not to do something bad."
According to Planning and Zoning Director Don Hathaway, Camden County's codes are outdated and in need of updates.
"The revisions were prompted by county commissioners to have more control when someone gets adversarial with planning and zoning," Hathaway said. "We are modernizing the code to match and to be able to be enforced."
If the codes are released by the subcommittee this week, Hathaway along with a lawyer will review the changes. Article 600 would then be sent back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a vote, which could be done as early as at their March meeting. When the Planning and Zoning Commission approves the changes, Article 600 would then be sent to the County Commission.
Once in the commission's hands, the codes would once again be brought to the public in a public hearing and could see further changes made by the county commissioners.