No formal compilation of citizen comments and suggested changes from 2015 public hearings or workshops on the Camden County Land Use Code exists.

No formal compilation of citizen comments and suggested changes from 2015 public hearings or workshops on the Camden County Land Use Code exists.

While the gatherings were billed as a way to bring residents’ and voters’ voices to the zoning code rewrite and bring much-needed transparency to Camden County government, it is now increasingly uncertain whether any of the general public’s desires ever reached the attorney rewriting the extensive document which regulates land use and subsequent permitting within the county’s Lake Area Planning & Zoning District.

Almost exactly three years later, the only proof that the workshops occurred lie with Lake Sun coverage at the time and an easel of poster paper where code suggestions were written down during the meetings. Despite a quorum of county commissioners being present and talking extensively with citizens and despite relatively large gatherings of the public who came to participate in their government, no formal minutes exist for what was said as the people of Camden County expressed what they wanted from a land use code overhaul.

Planning and zoning has been a major issue in Camden County Commission elections in at least 2014, 2016 and 2018.

The proposed code revisions to overhaul or rewrite the land use code that were kicked off by the September 2015 workshops just recently began a review process through the Camden County Planning Commission with the first public hearing held August 29, 2018. Several citizens attended the hearing opposed to a proposal to remove setbacks in residential zones where homes were on centralized sewer.

The poster paper on its easel was apparently tucked away in storage, gathering dust, until the Lake Sun specifically requested it after being informed that no minutes from the workshops existed. Photos of the paper or papers were provided. Dates depicted included September 9, 2015, September 22, 2015 and September 26, 2015.

None of the photos reference zero lake setbacks in the main residential zones for lots on state-approved centralized sewer as has been proposed. None of the photos reference removing a specific distance limit on satellite parking.

One of the photos does appear to reference enhancing the requirements for building permits, lowering the square footage which has to be permitted from 400 to 120 square feet.

Lodging facilities and rental definitions would be modified under the new code, though there appeared to be little discussion about them in the 2015 hearings on the code rewrite. There were multiple meetings on vacation rental homes, held separately though at other times.

An overall topic that appeared to be most discussed at the zoning code workshops, based on the number of items written down on the easel paper, was enforcement.

The most apparent proposed change in the code in regards to enforcement is reducing the initial correction period when the P&Z administrator determines a violation is occurring. The time frame is currently 90 days, but it would become 30 days.

A “county docket” within the Camden County Circuit Court was ostensibly activated earlier this year, according to commissioners, however it is unclear to what extent it is being utilized or whether it is actually functioning at all.

Revisiting the code suggestions made by the citizenry based on the easel paper, where based on reporter memory only items of general consensus were written down, the people asked the county government for the following:

•Work closely in conjunction with fire districts to confirm residential status

•Verbiage on deeds associating accessory lots with primary lots (defining location as well

•More defined signage restrictions

•Readdress fees for rezones

•Uniformity with signage for property disclosure/rezones

•Courts to address nuisance complaints/violations

•Address the oversight of retaining wall placement/restrictions/regulations

•Fees for under 400-square-foot structure permits

•Add impervious cover limits in zoned districts

•Apply consistency throughout code for fairness to all citizens

•Create clearly-defined ordinances to address lighting disturbances

•Re-classify use of property (Re-look at properties and zoning) - start over (ground zero)

•Rules governing chemical use

•Municipal court

•Reduce road restrictions for subdivisions

•Reduce 8,500 square-foot minimum lot size requirement The need for enforcement was highlighted with an exclamation point. Some of these points, as written on the easel, are not specific and the meaning is not completely clear. Enforcement suggestions on one section of the easel paper included:

•Municipal court type enforcement

•Citations through court

•(Now) Action required/stop work order

•(Now) Letters of violation 30, 60, 90 days - prosecuting attorney

•Penalties?

•Signage possible posted on property for rezones for public notification (restrictions)

•(Now) Current nuisance ordinance amended

•Doing away with Appendix G and put current nuisance ordinance part of code (trash, rubbish, old cars, food, etc.) (Municipal court) (Letters from prosecutor’s office)

•Per day violations ($) working with fire districts - no jail time!

•? Contractor licensing (repeat violators) (testing, continue education for contractors) Another section on enforcement stated:

•Policing/enforcing

•No jail time in code

•Not coming out to look at problems

•$ to county

The photo of another section partially cuts off the language, but it too appears to address enforcement, referencing six months jail time in enforcement by prosecutor, making something a Class B misdemeanor per statute, letters by administrator at 30 days and double fees.

Many, if not most, of the items appearing on the easel paper do not make an appearance in the proposed code revision.