More than a year and a half has gone by since the Camden County Commission announced it would tackle a rewrite of the Unified Land Use Code governing its Lake Area P&Z District.

More than a year and a half has gone by since the Camden County Commission announced it would tackle a rewrite of the Unified Land Use Code governing its Lake Area P&Z District.

Multiple hearings were held at the kickoff to garner problems and solutions from residents as well as from realtors, developers and other business people impacted by the code.

While original timeframes estimated by county officials had looked to have the code in place this year, it appears the project has become more complicated and mushroomed over time as more and more related issues arise and as legal requirements rear their head.

Starting with the intent to have county officials and volunteers rewrite the framework for planning and zoning along the lines of what was heard from the community for a subsequent legal review before being implemented, the county commission came to realize that solution was not feasible.

Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty admitted during a meeting with a resident over another P&Z issue earlier this week that he had not been aware of how complex the process and writing of the ordinance would be.

Upon advice of legal counsel, the commission hired its current P&Z attorney Ryan Harding of Husch Blackwell to rewrite the code based on issues from the commission, the P&Z department, building industry professionals and the public raised after more than 10 years under the current code which was implemented in 2004.

Fixing planning and zoning was one of the major campaign issues run on by Hasty who defeated incumbent Kris Franken in 2014. Unlike Hasty who said he wanted a complete overhaul all at once, Franken had proposed a piecemeal approach to rewriting a code that most agreed was and is inadequate for the county’s needs. In addition to problems with vague definitions and stipulations, the code was largely lifted from another county during a troubled start-up to zoning here.

While Hasty acknowledged his proposal to have an internal rewrite done was not feasible, First District Commissioner Bev Thomas said having a P&Z attorney complete the task had always been their intent because the code has to be legally defensible and that the process was spread out over two years in order to spread out the cost over multiple budget cycles.

According to Hasty and Thomas, the commission is paying Husch Blackwell a flat fee of $50,000 for the rewrite.

Hasty is anticipating the rewrite to be done this year, but another lengthy process of public hearings through the planning commission and then the county commission could stretch the implementation date to 2018 or even beyond with so many variables.

It should be noted as well that in late October 2016 Hasty anticipated having the preliminary draft from Harding soon and that was six months ago.

In the meantime, it appears the overall scope of the rewrite has grown as well.

According to Hasty, the issue over nightly rentals - which came to a head after the initial public hearings on the code rewrite - will be included in the overhaul.

It is unclear at this time how the county plans to address the issue given an unclear mandate from the public during later hearings specifically on residential structures being rented on a nightly basis as vacation homes. While there is a strong vacation home rental industry around Lake of the Ozarks, there were also many resident homeowners opposed to vacation rentals over problems with obnoxious visitors. The issue is a complex one with property tax assessments and lodging tax entangled with zoning.

Hasty and Thomas addressed the P&Z code rewrite in a meeting Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening, another code issue became apparent as a homeowner from the oldest phase of Sunny Slope subdivision of Camden County testified to the Camden County Planning Commission regarding dilapidated and unsafe structures.

Robert Baldridge and several other homeowners attended the commission’s meeting seeking help on how to deal with several abandoned properties in their neighborhood which they said were a public safety hazard and a detriment to their property values. P&Z was a last resort as other governmental entities had not helped, he said.

He described flooded trailers covered inside with mold and old houses with floors falling out and roofs collapsing.

P&Z Administrator Kim Willey said she invited Baldridge to speak to the commission as they might want to take this issue under consideration for possible further amendment of the code.

Appendix G of the current ULUC does prohibit this type of situation, according to Willey, but only for mobile homes. Abandoned stick-built or site-built homes are not included.

Additionally, the enforcement level of the code may not be enough to make property owners clean up junked-out land. Willey asked planning commissioners last month to be thinking about enforcement methods for the rewrite of Article 600 of the code.

Willey and two members of the planning commission plan to visit the problem neighborhood sometime next week.