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Moratorium on campgrounds ends

Fri, Feb 8th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Zoning Administrator Norman Craig went over the proposed ordinance changes governing campground regulations with the county at their Tuesday meeting. The Fillmore County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the amendments at their January 24 meeting following a Public Hearing and recommended that the county board adopt the amendments.

The amendment would restrict future campsites from being placed in the floodplain; require all new campgrounds or expansions with 50 sites or more to have an Environmental Assessment Worksheet; and require all campgrounds to be closed from December through February.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud insisted that in number seven under regulations, where it read: "All new campgrounds or expansion of existing campgrounds must meet a setback of 1,000 feet from any existing dwellings unless part of an incorporated city" - the words "or expansion of existing campgrounds" should be deleted. He maintained that it wasn't fair to those with existing campgrounds to be restricted from possible planned expansions. The first vote on a motion to delete these words failed with Bakke, Prestby and Dahl voting against.

However, after further discussion regarding the performance standards that also restricted an "existing dwelling unit" from being located within a 1,000 feet of a campground, unless part of a campground, the motion was reconsidered. There was concern that they may be restricting property owners adjacent to a campground. There was also some question whether the setback is from the property line of the campground or from the bordering camp sites. County Attorney Kelly Wagner stated that it was her understanding that the setback would be from the camp site.

Bakke asked why there was a 1,000 foot setback. Chairman Randy Dahl suggested that people want their space and in an Ag District people don't want noise and other disturbances. Bakke speculated that maybe a buffer of trees or bushes would be appropriate to absorb noises and possibly campfire smoke.

The motion was reconsidered and the words "or expansion of an existing campground" in number 7); "or existing dwelling unit" in 1) under Performance Standards; and "or existing campground" in 2) under Performance Standards were all struck from the amendments. The motions were approved with Commissioner Marc Prestby opposing.

Craig did not feel striking some of the wording would require another Public Hearing because the words deleted made the ordinance less restrictive. The board adopted the amendments with the above three wording deletions. Prestby opposed. Prestby felt that striking the phrases did not treat current and future campground owners equally. He also sees the amendments as a challenge for law enforcement.

Amunrud suggested that the ordinances are a fluid document. With the enactment of these changes the moratorium on new campgrounds can be lifted. Actually, the moratorium will expire in the next day or so.

Bakke said that the newly adopted amendments added some restrictions and give a better definition of a Recreational Camping Vehicle. He feels more discussion is needed on rules for private and commercial. He sees a need for buffers and no permanent buildings. With the potential of floods, campgrounds need to be mobile. Dahl added that campground owners need to continue to comply with other agency regulations as well.

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