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Carolina Beach Sets March 27th Workshop On Request To Permit RV Parks

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission considered a request at their Thursday March 13th meeting to permit Recreational Vehicle (RV) Parks in the Highway Business District along the Town's main artery Lake Park Blvd.
According to Town Senior Planner Jeremy Hardison, Mr. Troy Slaughter is requesting the Town to amend the zoning ordinance to create an allowance for Travel Trailer Parks in the Highway Business (HB) zoning district. Slaughter represents an existing RV park on North Lake Park Blvd.
The Planning Commission had questions about the proposal and ultimately voted to schedule a workshop for March 27th at 6:30pm at Town Hall to allow time to gather more information.
Hardison explained, "Currently the Travel Trailer Park use is listed in our table of permitted uses, but it is not allowed in any zoning district within the Town of Carolina Beach. Travel Trailer Parks were allowed in Marina Business MB-1 and Business B-2 (equivalent of Highway Business HB) until August 14, 2001." 
Hardison explained that during the discussion at the Planning and Zoning meeting that occurred in June 2001 there were several concerns discussed about travel trailer parks.  They include:
The Travel Trailer Park will:
1. Put a strain on the infrastructure of the town (water and sewer, trash pick-up);
2. Not attract businesses substantial to the growth of the town;
3. Not add tax dollars to Carolina Beach, no additional jobs  will be created from this business and;
4. Result in a reduction of tax values for the surrounding properties.
Hardison explained, "It was also discussed that a Travel Trailer Park would not the best use of the land for a commercially zoned area (i.e. HB zoning district).  The consensus was a travel park would be better suited in the "I" (industrial) or "C" (conservation) district.  The motion by the Planning and Zoning Board passed unanimously to deny both the rezoning and travel park.  Town Council agreed with Planning and Zoning and motioned unanimously to remove the land use."
He explained, "There is currently one Travel Trailer Park in the town limits owned by the applicant located at the corner of Lake Park Blvd and Goldsboro Ave.  The Travel Trailer Park is currently located in two different zones, HB and R-1."
He explained, "In September 2009 the applicant [Troy Slaughter] applied for a text amendment to rezone approximately 2 acres of land from R-1 to the HB zoning district on the corner of Goldsboro and Lake Park Blvd N. and requested to change the ordinance to allow for Travel Trailer Parks in the Highway Business zoning district.  The Technical Review Committee reviewed the items, but the applicant pulled both request before the October 2009 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting. In May of 2012 the applicant had the same plan and applied to rezone the entire park to HB and was denied by Town Council to expand the HB in the R-1 residential district" along Goldsboro Avenue.
Hardison explained to the Planning Commission in a memo last week, "If the use, “Travel Trailer Park,” is allowed then standards should be carefully developed to ensure the newly allowed use will be beneficial rather than detrimental to the surrounding area.  Some standards did exist in our ordinance prior to 2001.  Despite this, there were many concerns over travel trailer parks in the past which inevitably led to the prohibition of the land use anywhere in the Town of Carolina Beach.  If this use is to be allowed again, new standards should be developed that very objectively hit all concerns with this type of facility.  Many other coastal communities do have allowances for travel trailer parks with specific standards designed for these parks."
He explained, "Based on the Land Use Plan (LUP) it does appear the Town of Carolina Beach would support the use of a Travel Trailer Park.  It is actually already in existence in the exterritorial jurisdiction located in the Conservation Zoning District at the North Carolina State Park. They have a total of 83 sites for campers.  After speaking with one of the park rangers, staff found that on the weekends in the summertime they are usually at capacity.  During the weekdays in the summer they are usually approximately ½ full.  After October only a few fisherman utilize the campground.  Campers are limited to 14 days within any 30-day period.
 He explained, "Travel Trailer Parks in Carolina Beach would be a destination point for visitors who want to enjoy our natural resources (i.e. intracoastal waterway, and ocean) and wish to enjoy the Central Business District (CBD) and surrounding commercial areas such as HB.  Although the use would be positive to the Town by offering more diversity in housing for those wishing to visit, the vision for the CBD and HB is for a more dense level of commercial uses."
Hardison explained, "The proposal is in general conformity with the 2007 Land Use Plan.  Although travel trailer parks are not specifically addressed in the LUP, increasing the availability of a variety of quality tourist accommodations is encouraged.  Staff has reviewed the cost benefits of the use and created standards to limit the allowance and regulate the use to minimize the concerns.  If allowed staff recommends the use only be permitted in the HB through a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process."
Slaughter said the request is not unique to his property, but anyone could come in and put in a park if the amendment was approved.  He said Recreational Vehicles are not inexpensive and the Winner RV Park, "Has been there for decades and decades. My grandfather had it for a long time and then when he passed I took over the management of it all and we have very few problems there. If we have problems, they are gone. I get rid of them."
He said, "It's a very quiet place, we want it that way."
Some people stay for a couple of weeks or all summer.
Slaughter said, "I would love nothing more than to put 20,000 square feet of commercial space right there. That was my plan. And then the world changed. I can't fill 20,000 square feet of commercial space now. I just can't do it."
Commissioner Tammy Hanson said if parks were allowed by a conditional use permit then adjacent property owners could voice concerns. She said RV's are expensive toys and owners spend money when they visit.
Commissioner Greg Reynolds said there would be nothing stopping a pop-up camper.
Slaughter said campers that do not have sanitary facilities cannot stay at his park and he believes it’s a county ordinance or else a park would have to have bathhouse facilities.
Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin said if there is a condition for the type of vehicle, he would not want to be the guy going around double checking if it's a pop-up camper or not.
He said for a true RV park he's not sure a bathhouse would be required.
The commission discussed specifying "self-contained" vehicles with sanitary facilities.
Commissioner Ked Cottrell said "Trailer Parks" is an image issue and if you talk to people in the industry, they are not "Trailer Parks". He said, "They are not called camping parks or trailer parks. They are called RV resorts and these resorts now come with concrete pads, fire pits, asphalt roads, bathhouses with shower and laundry facilities. Most of them nowadays have kiddy areas... little stores and sell amenities. These guys driving these pushers are pushing big money down the road and my opinion is I think it’s a good place for us to go as a Town."
Cottrell said he would like to have more research on establishing standards for RV parks such as the size of concrete pads and other aspects.
Commissioner Cottrell suggested tabling the issue until April so they can research it and come up with realistic standards that would prevent them from boxing the Town in or boxing others out.
The commission will meet with the applicant to discuss standards at the March 27th workshop meeting.