A public hearing on proposed revisions to the land use code regulating Camden County’s Lake Area Planning & Zoning District is still on for this week.
A public hearing on proposed revisions to the land use code regulating Camden County’s Lake Area Planning & Zoning District is still on for this week. The hearing will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 29 in the third floor hearing room of the Camden County Courthouse.
The proposed revisions have been three years in the works after public hearings in 2015 kicked off the process for a code rewrite by P&Z attorney Ryan Harding. The source of input for the rewrite is unclear as there does not appear to be a clear match up between the public hearings and the proposed new code.
The Lake Sun has filed a Sunshine request for communications between county officials and Harding on the code rewrite in an effort to determine the origination of key proposed changes and the process for the revisions thus far.
While the 2015 hearings were apparently held solely by the P&Z Office, at the time a quorum of county commissioners attended and spoke at the hearings without planning commissioners in attendance. However the planning commission is now holding the public hearings on the revisions in order to make a recommendation to the county commission.
During the 2015 hearing process, citizens mainly expressed concerns about enforcement, noise pollution and conflicts between lakefront businesses and residents. The overhaul of the land use code was billed by administration then as mainly a cleanup of definitions.
The biggest difference proposed though is the removal of lakefront setbacks for all residential zones, except manufactured home parks, as long as these lots are served by a state-approved centralized sewer system. These setbacks are currently 25 feet.
A defined distance limit on satellite parking was also removed, only requiring that this parking be “within a reasonable distance.”
Overall, the proposed code has been rearranged with relatively few definition changes and altered road standards. The definition of lodging facilities is one of the more significant possible changes in definitions. Lodging facilities and hotels/motels are currently defined simply as a “facility offering transient lodging accommodations on a daily rate to the general public.”
The proposed new definition for lodging facilities states, “Any building, group of buildings, structure, facility, place, or places of business where five or more guest rooms are provided, which is owned, maintained, or operated by any person and which is kept, used, maintained, advertised or held out to the public for hire which can be construed to be a hotel, motel, motor hotel, apartment hotel, tourist court, resort, cabins, tourist home, bunkhouse, dormitory, or other similar place by whatever name called.” A hotel/motel would be a “commercial facility offering transient lodging accommodations on a daily rate to the general public.”
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.
In a separate but related matter, a county ordinance violation docket was supposed to have been set up within Camden County Circuit Court. The current process for zoning enforcement is through circuit court, however county commissioners have long held that that was a costly and ineffective method as the circuit court was overloaded with criminal and other types of civil cases.
It is not clear whether the separate docket is actually active and being utilized.
P&Z Administrator Tanna Wirtz has stated the revision process is only in the preliminary stages with lots of room for public comment and further revisions. Other possible changes ‒The code currently states a permit is not required for buildings 400 square feet or less. That would be 120 square feet under the revisions. Permits for retaining walls over four feet would also now be addressed for the first time, but would not need a permit.
‒Unzoned areas would be addressed for the first time, requiring their zoning process to be treated similarly to a rezoning.
‒Yard sales within residential zones would be limited to no more than three days in a 90-day period.
‒Rentals of single rooms within a residence would be allowed under the revisions, to no more than two people.