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Planning Commission Favors RV Parks In Highway Business District

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission voted at their April 10th meeting to recommend the Town Council approve of a request to amend the Town's zoning ordinance to permit RV Parks in the Highway Business District along Lake Park Blvd.
The Town Council will consider the request following a public hearing scheduled for their May 13th meeting.
The Planning 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.
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.
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 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.
The commission met with the applicant to discuss standards at a March 27th workshop meeting.
The amendment language proposed at the April 10th meeting was composed based on feedback from the Planning Commission and the public at their March 27th, workshop.
Recreational Vehicle (RV) Parks would have to be a minimum of 1.5 acres in size and have a minimum of 24 feet between each site utility pedestal.
The setbacks for the Highway Business District shall apply from the recreational vehicle and shall be measured from the individual vehicle site. In addition, any portion of the recreational vehicle park that is adjacent to a residential district shall have a minimum setback of 20 feet. Each individual RV site shall be located a minimum distance of 10 feet from any amenity or facility.
RV's shall be limited to a vehicle which is:
(a) Designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck,
(b) Has self-contained temporary living quarters that have sleeping, cooking and sanitation facilities designed for recreational, camping and traveling.
For access, no individual RV site shall be accessed from a public street. No more than two driveway cuts shall be located on a right of way that is associated with a RV park. In no instance shall any point of a driveway cut be within one hundred feet of another driveway cut to be measured along the right of way. All interior roadways shall be at least 20 feet in width for two-way traffic and at least 15 feet in width for one-way traffic. A fifty-five degree turning radius shall be required on all curves and entrances and exits. All interior streets shall begin/end on a public road.
For landscaping, a landscaping buffer will be required. Additionally, a 6 foot fence with a minimum 80% opacity shall be provided on any side of a RV Park adjacent to a residential zoning district. In no instance shall the street yard buffer be waived except for approved driveway cuts.
Each RV site within a park shall have electrical, water and sewer hookups.
A dumpster of at least two cubic yards shall be provided for every 10 Recreational Vehicles that can be accommodated by the park.
For RV Parks, amenities may be provided on site for services that enhance the quality of the recreational vehicle park such as; caretakers dwelling, bathhouse, swimming pools, volleyball courts, or some other amenity.
Recreational Vehicles shall not be located at a site for more than 180 days within a calendar year. The operator of an RV Park will have to keep logs of vehicle information that can be inspected by the Town at any time.
RV Parks will be defined as "A land use designed to accommodate transient visitors wishing to visit Carolina Beach. These facilities shall in no way accommodate permanent residents to live in a recreational vehicle park.
Parks would be permitted as a conditional use requiring review by the Planning Commission and final approval by the Town Council for each park.
Commissioner Greg Reynolds commented at the April 10th, meeting, "We want to make sure there is enough teeth in this that we get what we want. We want the outside appearance to be conducive to the Town, nice appearance. We are not seeing a bunch of vehicles. The fact that the street yard cannot be changed. 80% opacity fence for residential districts. That's not cheap. You are talking about pretty much a lot of landscaping. For protecting the public interest I think we have created something with teeth but left the business owner the capacity to make things work. I think the acre and a half will turn out to be a fairly small park once you put that in there."
He said a friend of his just spent $122,000 on an RV and RV Parks are not like they use to be. He said, "Those are people with expendable income that I'm not sure is a detriment to the Town."
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend Council approve of the rezoning request at their May 13th, meeting with a change recommended by Mr. Slaughter to increase the minimum width of individual RV vehicle sites to 30' feet to avoid a congested look within the park.

Going Back To 2001:
This isn't the first time this issue has come up. Back in June of 2001 the issue came before the Planning and Zoning Commission when a property owner applied to open an RV Park adjacent to the existing Winner RV Park. Ultimately the Planning Commission voted to recommend Council deny the request and to remove RV Parks as a permitted use in the zoning ordinance.
"No Travel Parks on 421" was the general feeling among residents and business owners during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting held Thursday night June 28th, 2001.
The negative reactions from the public were in direct response to an application filed with the Town of Carolina Beach to obtain a conditional use permit to open a new Travel Park, to be located on Highway 421 just North of the existing Winner Travel Park.
That request was submitted by property owner Allen Masterson.
As the Planning Commission heard recommendations from Planning Director Jane Daughtridge, they felt uninformed based on the information provided by the applicant. During the public hearing several residents and business owners spoke about the request.
Joe Coen, owner of the Sterling Craft Mall and Chairman of the Revitalization Steering Committee for Carolina Beach stated his view saying, "I urge you not to vote for rezoning. Route 421 is the heart of our business district. It says a lot to the people who drive down that road. It's a high traffic area, do you really want more RV's on that road, turning into there. You talk about image setting, a tent area in front and a RV area in the back. Do you really want the tourists and locals to see that?"
Coen continued, "How many tourists brochures have you seen that portray RV's within them? We the Revitalization Committee have researched the area. One of the things that people want is more entertainment. I don't think one of the things that people want is more camping. They want upscale retail shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Do you think this is going to add to these items of the publics' and tourists’ interest? We already have an RV Park, I wish we didn't have it and neither does the owner, who will turn that into a nice upscale shopping area if he's smart. I live in Kure Beach and own property in Kure Beach, so do these people... I am not discriminating against them, but I don't think you should put an RV Park in the heart of the business district."
A representative of the Discovery Learning Center located behind the Island Tackle and Hardware on North Lake Park Blvd, stated, "Me and my wife live in Kure Beach and operate the Discovery Day Care. Our enrollment will be around 79 kids when we open. My wife has spent over three years looking for an appropriate location for the center. An RV park will lesson the value of our property, pose safety concerns, and lesson the chance that parents will bring their kids to our center. Looking at the plans, we can easily imagine these large RV's using our parking lot as a turnaround. We are asking you to rule against having an RV Park across from us."
During that same June 2001 Planning Commission meeting, Nicole Slaughter, representing Winner Enterprises, the company that owners the Winner Travel Park on Highway 421 stated, "It does not offer additional tax dollar revenue, nor does it allow for additional jobs in Carolina Beach. We don't feel that our park is the best possible use of the land and hope to remove it in the near future. Given the Winner Enterprises insight to RV parks, we believe that it is not in the best interest of the Town. There is no tax benefit. The dollars spent by someone staying in an RV park is zero, self-sufficient. It will lesson property values just because of the type of clientele that it attracts. The property that is proposed is part residential. I think that the project is not good for the Town. It will increase use of water and sewer and put a burden on the infrastructure there as well as the increased use of police resources. We have had to call the police down to our park at times to get people removed. This project does not add additional jobs like restaurants and shopping does. Because it would discourage the types of long term residents and repeat business that we want to attract and it would not help in attracting major hotel projects."
Mrs. Slaughter continued, "We need to ask ourselves why we don't have a national chain down here looking back at past planning. If you allow this project then where does it stop. You will be on a slippery slope. What is in the best interest of the Town? It adds no jobs, puts a burden on the infrastructure of the Town water and sewer and police."
The Planning Commission unanimously voted in June 2001 to recommend Council deny the application to permit a park at 607 and 609 North Lake Park Blvd and to change to zoning ordinance to eliminate permitting Travel Parks in the Highway Business District.
At an August 14th, 2001 meeting of the Town Council, Troy Slaughter spoke to the Council stating that within the next five years the Winner RV Park would no longer be there and that it would be replaced with another commercial use that better suits the area.
Slaughter, who was also on the Planning Commission at the time stated, "I am in support of proposal to remove the travel parks item from the permitted use list. I did not
vote at the P&Z meeting due to my position but would like to state my opinion and support on the issue."