The Lake News Online
  • Looking forward Camden County: Unraveling P&Z’s problems

  • Part five in a five-part series addressing Camden County’s most pressing needs.
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    • A brief history of Camden County planning and z...

      •2010 Camden County Planning and Zoning Commission approves a new master plan at cost of $140,000.
      •January 2011 Kris Franken takes office as presiding commissioner
      ^May 201...

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      A brief history of Camden County planning and zoning

      •2010 Camden County Planning and Zoning Commission approves a new master plan at cost of $140,000.

      •January 2011 Kris Franken takes office as presiding commissioner

      ^May 2011 Ward and Barb Morris begin the permitting process for Sugarloaf Winery, west of Camdenton, working with the Camden County Planning and Zoning department. Over the next three years, the Wards had ongoing issues with requirements, fees and guidelines.

      •June 2011 Chris Hall unexpectedly resigned from his position as Camden County Planning & Zoning administrator. Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken steps in to run planning and zoning department in the interim.

      •September 2011 Don Hathaway is hired as the Planning & Zoning administrator.

      •December 2012 Cliff Luber takes office as associate commissioner.

      ^March 2013 Camden County and developer Gary Prewitt discuss a proposed parking lot near Shady/Lazy Gators.  The land was not zoned when Camden County implemented planning and zoning in 2004. As recently as July 2014, the parking issues were still ongoing.

      ^April 2013 Paradise Tropical Restaurant and Camden County Planning and Zoning get sideways over an expansion project for the lakefront venue. Residents were concerned about noise. After months of discussion the owner of the venue agreed to install barriers to create a buffer.

      •April 2013 A proposal put forth for Economic Enhancement Zones for some areas of the county is met with strong opposition.  Due to House Bills 184 and 196 going into effect on Aug. 28, EEZs became obsolete.

      •May 2013 Proposed changes to Article 600 (enforcement) were never adopted.  Citizens protested the proposed revisions which would have strengthened enforcement measures. After the public hearing process revealed strong feelings against the revisions, the proposal was tabled indefinitely and has not gone forward since.

      •May 2013 During mid May of 2013, it became clear that there was an unexplained difference in planning and zoning maps. The map designating the district that was used for the 1997 election was not the same used at public hearings in 2004. When, how and who changed the map remained a mystery. By the end of that same month, the map officially changed.

      •March 2014 Director Don Hathaway resigns from Camden County planning and zoning citing a  multitude of problems, including the actions of Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber. Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken steps in as interim director.

      •April 2014 In wake of the resignation of Hathaway, Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber continues to question legality of Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken taking over the position until a replacement is hired.

      •April 2014 Article 800 (zoning district classifications)  discussions end with no action taken.

      •June 2014 Kim Willey takes over as Planning & Zoning administrator

      •June 2014 The Camden County Commission and the Camden County Planning and Zoning Commission agree on a policy to give landowners who found themselves inappropriately zoned a break on fees.

      •June 2014  Camden County receives payment of over $40,000 in fees from developers of a for the hotel project after discovering the county had issued a building permit without having all the documents and fees paid.

      •July 2014 Business owner Theresa Townsend is escorted from a county commission meeting after confronting Franken and Luber about assessed planning and zoning fees on her business, Gidgets Gadgets.

      •July 2014 Controversy over the Shady/Lazy Gators parking lot continues.

  • Planning and zoning has been a hot topic in Camden County for several months, but in reality has been an ongoing issue for years. The incidences of controversy are so many and various that it's hard to get your mind around the problems to explain them, let alone fix them.
    Implementation of the regulations on development within the lake district has been a challenge from its conceptual approval by voters in 1997 to the much later inception of the actual Unified Land Use Code in 2004 and beyond.
    In its relatively short life span, Camden County P&Z has been through multiple directors. The county has poured tens of thousands of dollars and unknown man hours into attempts to implement it, fix it and fix it some more, yet always seeming to miss the mark.
    If you're around the Lake of the Ozarks region long enough, you'll likely hear about how unique it is. And in the planning and zoning department, Camden County certainly faces its own brand of challenges.
    Not urban yet also not a truly rural area, the county's lakefront is packed with homes intermixed with businesses after decades of major growth without planning and zoning.
    Though it was long-since approved by voters, P&Z continues to be highly politicized and seems to lack a consensus in the vision for the future as well as on the tools to carry that vision out.
    The region has a tradition of anti-regulatory sentiment that continues to impact Camden County P&Z. Many want less strict regulations or none at all.
    Additionally, wide swaths of lakefront have little to no regulation as they lie in jurisdictions without planning and zoning. Uneven regulations in the region have brought even more heat to bear on Camden County P&Z.
    Partly due to the politicization of P&Z and partly due to personality conflicts and other personnel issues, the department has suffered from discontinuity and instability with turnover in the position of administrator. The resignation of Don Hathaway and the new hire of Kim Willey was just the latest installment.
    Continuity is also lacking elsewhere. The government struggles to formulate a plan and then stick with it, or if not stick to the plan, to at least take a more calm and matter-of-fact approach to refining it.
    Camden County had barely entered the P&Z business (2004) before it started to redo the original master plan in a multi-year process with consultants that culminated in the final approval of a new plan in 2010. Now it looks as though it will be redone again regardless of who is elected to lead the county — the most recent version still not being well-liked by many on either side of the current debate.
    Page 2 of 2 - Not only are the code and plan in almost constant debate since the vote and implementation in 2004, individual high profile cases have challenged P&Z at almost every step with a great deal of pressure coming to bear on the department, planning commission and county commission from both business people and residents.
    The divide is often framed as one between economic development versus residents' desires — as if a choice has to be made between the two when it is really up to P&Z and the plan to promote both in harmony.
    Whether the vision for the county laid out in the plan is adequate is a matter of opinion, but while a master plan currently exists, it is often not readily apparent how strongly the plan and future land use map — which is the physical manifestation of the plan — play into specific case decisions anyway.
    As it struggles to find its way in the morass, the overall P&Z entity in Camden County has seemed to take a path of accommodation and mitigation, trying to allow most projects — wherever they may be — to go forward but with stipulating conditions to try to mitigate the impact on the opposition, typically residents. As is the case with many a compromise, it often leaves both sides less than satisfied, and they continue to stump for changes.
    It is unclear whether P&Z is trying to create areas of compatible uses with buffer zoning in between — as is done in traditional zoning — or if accommodation and mitigation to allow mixed uses is in fact the long term plan for the district.
    Outside of individual zoning cases, many other problems exist as a result of the central issues. Errors in mapping, information reportedly varying from administrator to administrator, vagueness in the code, cost for permits, enforcement problems — all these complaints have needed to be addressed yet continue largely unabated as debate goes on endlessly without resolution.
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