According to Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, the law firm Husch Blackwell, hired by the county at a flat rate of $50,000 for the services, has indicated the draft should be ready before January and Hasty expects to adopt the new ordinance before April of 2018, along with flood map revisions.

More than two years after the Camden County Commission announced undertaking the challenge of rewriting its Unified Land Use Code, a final draft is expected to be unveiled before the end of the year. This set of regulations governs the Lake Area Planning and Zoning District.

According to Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, the law firm Husch Blackwell, hired by the county at a flat rate of $50,000 for the services, has indicated the draft should be ready before January and Hasty expects to adopt the new ordinance before April of 2018, along with flood map revisions.

“We haven’t received a copy and structurally what we’ve been told is the commission really can’t get a copy of it until it has gone through the planning and zoning process,” Hasty said on Wednesday after a commission meeting adjourned. “We’ve been instructed it’s not proper etiquette or structure, based on case law, to get involved; it’s between the lawyers and planning and zoning administrator.”

Hasty said once the draft is turned over to Planning and Zoning Administrator Kim Willey, it will be placed in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission for a recommendation to be sent to the Commissioner’s Office for final adoption.

“We have an opportunity at that time to have some input and there are some specific things I’d like to see changed in regards to the cost of building houses,” Hasty said. “There will be public hearings. We have to have at least one and I’m anticipating having that in the early part of 2018.

While original timeframes estimated by county officials had looked to have the code in place by 2017, the project became more complicated and encompassing than initially anticipated. Public hearings began as early as September of 2015.

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 and through public hearings — for a subsequent legal review before implementation, the county commission came to realize that solution was not feasible.

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.

In addition to problems with vague definitions and conflicting stipulations, the code was largely lifted from another county during a troubled start-up. 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 as well, Hasty said last April.

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.