BY BRIAN JONES
The Clay County Board of Supervisors met in special session Tuesday morning to discuss an ordinance governing RV parks.
The county is expecting an influx of RVs as construction workers begin arriving next month to start work on the Yokohama plant. Officials are trying to quickly get regulations in place to govern the anticipated growth in transient population. [Earlier this month the West Point Board of Selectmen voted down a recommendation by the Planning Commission to rezone to allow RV parks as a limited conditional use in the A-O zone. – Brian Jones]
The board met Tuesday to read through a proposed ordinance. About 10 interested members of the public attended.
[The meeting largely consisted of the board reading through the nine-page document line-by-line and making suggestions. Rather than go through all that here, I’m just going to summarize a few of the high points and mention a couple of comments made by local businessmen at the end of the meeting. A copy of the draft ordinance is available at the chancery clerk’s office in the Clay County courthouse. – Brian Jones]
Key provisions of the draft ordinance include:
• An RV park is defined as “any single tract of land developed for more than five manufactured homes or recreational vehicles.”
• Preliminary plans must be submitted, showing a vicinity map and internal access roads, as well as the size, location and scope of water and sewer lines. Any private sewer system must be approved by the Department of Environmental Quality.
• The minimum size for an RV park is three acres. Minimum rental space size for spaces with utility hookups is 1,500 square feet, and 900 square feet for those without utility hookups.
• Each rental space must be set back 75 feet when abutting a county, state or federal highway or other right of way; 50 feet when abutting other public rights of way; 50 feet when abutting a property line. Each RV must be at least 15 feet apart if side-to-side and 10 feet apart when end-to-end.
• All interior roadways must be at least 32 feet wide for two-way traffic and at least 18 feet wide for one-way traffic.
• All spaces must have at least 25 feet of frontage along interior roadways.
• RV parks must provide service buildings equipped with flush toilets, lavatories, showers and laundry facilities. [As written, the ordinance requires one such facility per 500 feet. Many of the attendees thought this was excessive, and I doubt it will survive to the end product. – Brian Jones]
• RV parks must have at least one sanitary disposal station to remove waste from holding tanks in a clean and efficient manner.
• All utilities must be underground and improved by the City of West Point building inspector.
• Each rental space with sewer and electrical hookups must have two water outlets, one for the RV and one for a garden hose. A minimum of 80 percent of RV spaces must have a sewer hookup and must be equipped with an electrical outlet supplying at least 110 volts.
• There must be at least a 20-foot buffer area between the park and nearby buildings or roads.
• The site must not be within 1,000 feet of a subdivision or residential area with more than three residents. If three or more homes are present, each resident must sign a waiver accepting the park as an adjacent facility.
• Parks must be landscaped so as to be screened from adjacent properties as much as possible. They must be surrounded by a fence or wall at least six feet in height, or by means of hedges or other landscaping.
After the supervisors went through the ordinance, several attendees spoke up.
“You have people coming into this community from this point forward who will judge you on your hospitality,” said Eddie Longstreet. “This ordinance is requiring things that Lowndes County did not require. If people see this and feel like they are not welcome, this is going to hurt us.”
“I haven’t got a dog in this hunt,” said David Duke. “The way this is written, each item is a real good point. But the way it’s written, the way you get an RV park built Yokohama’s going to be producing tires already. It’s going to take you forever and a day to get a sewer permit from DEQ. It’s going to cost someone tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in an RV park. If you take a year to see this operational, then the RV park won’t make any money and will be out of business.”
[This was a common refrain among pretty much all the speakers. They estimated that it would take up to six months to get a sanitation permit from DEQ, and workers are set to begin arriving next month. – Brian Jones]
“You just like an individual who’s preparing the house to invite the preacher over for Sunday dinner,” said Sylvester Harris. “You’ve got to clean it up and get everything clean, but you’re overdoing things with some of this material.”
The board will work on the ordinance more in the coming days and present it again at an upcoming meeting. The supervisors mentioned the possibility of having a special meeting in the next few days, but said they would move on the ordinance by Tuesday at the latest.