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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Council Votes No On New RV Trailer Parks In Highway District

Council Votes No On New RV Trailer Parks In Highway District

Existing Winner RV Park at the corner of North Lake Park Blvd and Goldsboro Avenue. It is the only park located in Town and was established prior to the land-use being restricted in 2001.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted unanimously at their May 13th meeting to deny a request to permit Recreational Vehicle (RV) Parks in the Highway Business District along the Town's major thoroughfare on Lake Park Blvd.
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 new RV Parks in the Highway Business District. 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.
The amendment language proposed at the April 10th Planning Commission meeting was composed based on feedback from the Planning Commission and the public at a 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 could be accessed from a public street. No more than two driveway cuts could be located on a right of way that is associated with a RV park. In no instance could 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 would 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 would be required on all curves and entrances and exits. All interior streets would begin/end on a public road.
For landscaping, a landscaping buffer would be required. Additionally, a 6 foot fence with a minimum 80% opacity would 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 could 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 would 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.
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 a park.
Ed Parvin responded to a citizen request on April 29th for information on how many lots on Lake Park Blvd could potentially house an RV Park if Council approved the amendment on May 13th.
Parvin explained, " It is difficult to tell how many lots could potentially have RV Parks.   As drafted the ordinance would allow for RV Parks on any property that had at least 1.5 acres in the Highway Business District (HB).  The attached map shows the HB zoning district and lot sizes. When reviewing this data there are only a few lots that are undeveloped that could accommodate RV’s. However, there are a significant number that are prime for redevelopment that could accommodate RV’s (i.e. Federal Point Shopping  Center). Likewise, there are several lots that are contiguous to each other that do not consist of 1.5 acres by themselves, but when combined have 1.5 acres and could then accommodate RV’s (i.e. properties just south of Walgreens). "
During the Council's May 13th, meeting Hardison explained the applicant's existing RV Park could expand. He said, "He has a little bit over an acre and a half of Highway Business area that is zoned Highway business on his land" and, "He does have some ability to expand that if this was passed... he could apply for a conditional use permit to expand if Council chooses to vote yay for it."
Slaughter explained he represents Winner Enterprises and, "For the record, we own several buildings here at Carolina Beach that house businesses such as Surf House, Sacks Hair Salon" and others. He said, "We have a number of buildings that house a number of businesses that employee a number of people here at Carolina Beach."
He explained when his grandfather opened the existing park it was located in the unincorporated area of the County and later annexed into Carolina Beach Town limits. He said, "When we got incorporated, the only area that was being used as an RV Park is what Jeremy has outlined with the black line there. And the property to the west of that was all trailer park. Had my grandfather made the rest of that RV Parking we wouldn't be standing here but that's the way Martin Winner did it so that's what we are living with right now."
Slaughter explained, "The issue before this Town Council is what is in the best interest of Carolina Beach. Let me point out something that may not be so obvious. I'm asking this council to approve an amendment that would effectively allow competition to come in to Carolina Beach with RV Parks. Right now we are the only RV Park period. And if you vote against this amendment tonight we will stay the only RV Park so what would be an inducement for me to ask this Council to amend the zoning ordinance to allow competition to come in. The answer is, I think it’s a good thing for Carolina Beach. RV Parks are not what they were 13, 14 years ago. They are different. The RV's and motor homes you see parked in our RV Park are two hundred, three hundred, four hundred thousand dollar RV's. The people that inhabit those RV's are people that have discretionary income. These are families. Retirees. These are people that come from all over the state and parts of the country to come to Carolina Beach. First of all, to use the term travel trailer, that's almost a derogatory term at this point. RV's, that's a whole other industry."
Slaughter explained, "Typically when they are in an RV they go out to restaurants. They don't necessarily want to cook in their RV's so they go the grocery stores, buy food, attend events. So it's a different type of clientele."
He explained, "With respect to the prior timeline when the zoning ordinance was changed in 2001, it was a different economic climate back then. Things were on the upswing for Carolina Beach. Things looked really, really good. I went on the record at that time as saying the RV park would be gone in five years. Well, look how wrong you can be. I was dead wrong about that. The economy collapsed. The bottom fell out and the world changed."
He explained, "Backing up, regrouping, adapting and looking at the situation, that's why I'm before this Council tonight asking for this amendment."
Long time resident and property owner Mr. Manning owns a home on Raleigh Avenue and told the Council, "I own a camper and if I go camping there are a certain amount of things I have to take with me. Things I want to take and need to take. If I'm going to stay a day or two there's not much. But if I'm going to stay a month or two months there is a lot of stuff you are going to need." He said those items often get piled up around an RV.
He said, "This will open the door for more of these RV Parks along our main thoroughfare into Town. If you don't know what they look like, go to Market Street in Wilmington, go to Myrtle Beach, you'll see them. I'm not against RV Parks. I would be against them in the HB zone. If there is land somewhere where you could put an RV Park and not have to drive by it every time I go to Food Lion or down the street or people coming into Town to see it, I would certainly welcome the opportunity for Mr. Slaughter to have his competition."
Local resident Fredrick Fisher said, "In what way does the Town of Carolina Beach come across saying that you can't use this land for this as long as it's not going to harm the material value of that property. It's going to raise the property values I think. What's wrong with having other RV Parks along Carolina Beach Road. I think it's a boom to the Town."
He said, "I think it will be a great asset to this Town."
Former Mayor Bob Lewis said, "I have nothing against RV Parks. In fact the owners of this RV Park do a really good job. I actually operated a business across the street from them for a number of years and every person that came through there and came to my business was a great person, wonderful people. With the exception of some long term people that left a lot of stuff outside."
Lewis explained, "When you take a look at the gateway of Carolina Beach. If we are going to open this up in the Highway Business District, even under a conditional use permit we could be looking at five, six, seven different RV Parks right along our main gateway into Town."
He said previous Council's decided it was not a land use the community wanted as the Town worked to grow and improve.
Lewis said allowing RV parks verses new commercial developments that employee more people will, "Take away entertainment opportunities, I think we take away other opportunities for the Town to grow and add to our tax base."
He said perhaps locating a park in the industrial zone off Dow Road where there are acres of land is better suited than along the main road in the Highway Business District.
Slaughter said five or six RV parks might be excessive and recommended Council consider limiting the distance between parks.
Council member Sarah Friede said she grew up vacationing with family in an RV and is familiar with RV parks. She said, "The job of government is to have a plan for the Town. I think it is clear the Town has decided we don't want to have mobile home parks in Town. That they are not going to exist here anymore. Those that are here can stay but when they are gone they are gone. I think that expanding or allowing RV parks is a back door into mobile homes again. Especially in the Highway Business district, I don't see that as a step in the right direction. Most of the RV's that are in Mr. Slaughter's park are probably more expensive than my house, however, not all of them are and there is no limitation on the amount of time that someone can pull up... and stay. And some people have staid there for probably years."
She explained the Town has decided it's too hard to enforce policing the amount of time RV's are parked at a facility and if parks were located elsewhere in Town such as the Industrial District, that may be an option but she doesn't support them in the Highway Business District.
Councilman Gary Doetsch said, "In 2001 I voted to remove it from the conditional use permitting process and I personally don't see a big change between then and now so I tend to agree with you on that Sarah. I do understand in those days we were looking at future dreams of expanding growth and I know that is not quite the same but we are seeing a resurgence of it so I would like to stick with that plan if we could."
Council member Leann Pierce said, "I have to say my concern as well is the enforcement of some of the regulations we would have to have. How can we say people can't be there full time? I've never had a problem. I do have a property close to the Winner RV Park and have no problem at all with the Winner family. They operate a great facility but we can't control other owners who would come in" and, "I'm not sure we would want to see that all the way down the Highway Business District."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth asked about a restriction on the amount of time an RV could stay at a park.
Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin said the way the amendment is written, there is a limit of 180 days but they would need only to move one spot over to reset the clock.
Mayor Dan Wilcox said, "I'm a big property rights person and in the old days when we lived 50 miles apart we didn't have zoning regulations so we didn't have to worry about planning because it just wasn't necessary. We live in close proximity and we live on 50' foot lots and we have to try and balance our community. You have to have planning and what one person does on their lot does affect surrounding property values and does affect the Town as a whole."
Wilcox explained, "I think the applicant ask the right question. What do we think is best for our Town? I know in past years we've spent well over two hundred thousand dollars - probably over three hundred - at this time on gateway landscaping, we've done $60,000 in new lighting a couple of years ago" and encouraged and witnesssed a response from owners in the district that have fixed up their buildings and built new developments.
He explained, "I do see a need for a place for RV's, I don't think it's in the Highway Business District." The Council voted unanimously to deny the zoning amendment request.
Going Back To 2001:
At a June 2001 Planning Commission meeting concerning a request to open a new RV park on Lake Park Blvd, Nicole Slaughter, representing Winner Enterprises, the company that owns 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."