Several people urged Aiken County in South Carolina to relax its regulations on RV parks and campgrounds facilities on Tuesday (Aug. 21), but several members of  the county council worry that doing so could invite unintended consequences, the Aiken Standard reported.

The floor was opened to public comment during the council’s meeting on proposed modifications to the Code of Ordinances that would permit RV parks and campgrounds to operate on fewer acres than is currently allowed and would increase the maximum density of vehicles or campsites per acre, among other changes.

Two RV lot owners and a handful of renters addressed the council, saying there is a need in the community for rentable space and that making the existing regulations less restrictive would meet that need. Everyone who spoke was in favor of the proposed changes.

“There are not enough parks in Aiken to take care of the supply (of renters),” said Bob Samples, who owns an RV lot in North Augusta. “I have had to turn people away. If I can’t get this ordinance changed, people will have to go to other places.”

The suggested code modifications are that an RV park and campground:

  • Be a minimum of 2 acres instead of 5.
  • Maximum density not exceed 12 vehicles or campsites per acre instead of 10.
  • Minimum setbacks, among others, be 30 feet from a local street and 20 feet from other RVs and structures.

“I think Aiken County needs more than what it is available,” said Ted Campbell, who rents a lot in Sparky’s Mobile Home Park in Jackson. Campbell, like the other renters who spoke Tuesday, is a subcontrator at SRS. “At the present time, there are three men who want to work here, but have no place to set their mobile homes.”

Councilman Scott Singer is worried that changing the ordinances will open a can of worms and make it easy for “people with mobile home parks to come in under the guise of an RV park.”

RV Defined

Aiken County defines an RV as having 400 square feet or less and as a structure not to be used for permanent living quarters, but only as temporary sleeping quarters while camping or traveling. A mobile home, on the other hand, is a minimum of 900 square feet and is used as permanent living quarters. Mobile home parks must be a minimum of 5 acres with a maximum of six homes per acre.

Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie has heard from constituents who support the changes, and from those who don’t. She is concerned that the county council is being driven to change the ordinances to accommodate a select few.

Caroline Sparks, who owns Sparky’s Mobile Home Park, also appealed to the council. Sparks was cited last year by County Planning and Development and her RV park was shut down.

Planning and Development Director Stephen Strohminger said each RV lot or campground that has been shut down did not have the permits to operate required by the county.

“Some people have us going back and changing the ordinances because they didn’t obey the rules,” McKenzie said.

Councilman Gary Bunker encouraged his fellow council members to thoroughly consider any unintended consequences that could arise before it takes its final vote on the issue. Perhaps, he said, if council approved the changes, it could also require certain development and screening standards to mitigate any unintended consequences.

The council will consider two more readings of the proposed changes before its final vote.