Campgrounds are places for people to visit, not to live.
That’s a message Sullivan County planning officials hope to send with a new code enforcement effort announced Monday (Aug. 20), according to TriCities.com, Johnson City, Tenn.
Sullivan County Director of Planning and Zoning Ambre Torbett said her office is sending a letter to county commercial campground owners reminding them what zoning regulations apply to their property.
“There are some campground owners who have abused the system,” Torbett said, refusing to identify them.
County zoning laws prohibit the installation of porches, decks or other permanent structures next to a recreational vehicle or camper.
Restroom and shower facilities are allowed if they have been included in a campground site plan submitted to the county’s planning department.
“We are concerned from a public health and safety standpoint,” Torbett said Monday. “(The campers) become so jam-packed in there that if one catches on fire, they’re all affected.”
She is also worried about campground owners who have too many tenants because it may create problems with the septic or sewer systems.
Torbett said while her office has investigated some complaints about crowded campgrounds, she has been waiting for a consensus from local planning commissions before moving forward with enforcement.
“The (county) Planning Commission made it real clear that recreational vehicle parks are not mobile home parks,” she said, adding that zoning regulations allow permanent structures to be built next to a mobile home.
Torbett said the effort will target commercial campgrounds – which provide seasonal accommodations for their tenants – and not temporary campgrounds set up for race fans or community recreational facilities.
The new enforcement campaign comes four months after the commission approved a set of new regulations clarifying county zoning rules for campgrounds.
These regulations were adopted in March following the county’s cleanup of its Observation Knob Park campground, where 200 semi-permanent residents were evicted in November 2006.
People who violate county zoning rules could pay a $50 fine for each day of violation.
Torbett said she will give campground owners a chance to bring their properties in line with regulations before taking any punitive action.