Hope Campbell, who owns the parent company for Camp Clearwater, also serves on the White Lake Planning Board. She said the company would “have to strongly consider changing the use of the land” if the town approved more regulations.
At last week’s regular meeting of the town board, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Corbett asked that the town board consider changing the zoning ordinance to forbid any attachments in campgrounds, except for free-standing decks and steps. It was incorrectly reported in Friday’s Bladen Journal that attachments that meet all state and local ordinances will be allowed.
Last year, the town passed new rules requiring all additions meet building codes, setback rules and safety standards. Clearwater was the first campground inspected by the town, and the company gave campers until the beginning of the season to get all structures in compliance. Tons of debris from non-complying porches, rooms, sheds and additions have already been hauled off by the campground.
Larry Barnhart, a member of the White Lake town council and manager of Camp Clearwater, said the campground will be in compliance with whatever rules the town passes, but the current rules have already cost the campground thousands of dollars in lost rent.
“Clearwater was in the process of complying with the new rules,” he said. “Now, they want to change the rules again? That’s not fair to the campgrounds at White Lake, or their customers.
“After a certain point,” he said, “something has to give.”
Corbett’s motion to ban anything but decks in campgrounds was seconded by Commissioner Don Smith and supported by Commissioner J.C. Porterfield. Corbett withdrew the motion, but the town may further discuss the issue at a workshop in March. The workshop was originally set to work out technical details on improvements to the water system, and investigate the practicality of installing individual water meters on every campsite at the lake.
Corbett said Monday he thinks attachments make campers and RV’s more like permanent structures, and “you should be able to remove a camper without any major disassembly or demolition.”
He also said he feels no structure in a campground should have any kind of addition, including park model trailers.
Park models differ from camper trailers and RVs in that park models are designed to be semi-permanently installed. Most park models resemble small modular homes or moble homes.
Barnhart stood on the porch of a large park model at Clearwater Saturday and pointed out how the porch, a sitting room, and steps were built in accordance with building codes, “but these would have to go.”
“All this would have to go,” he said. “This is in compliance with the rules, but if the rules are changed, this porch would have to go, and I challenge anyone to tell me what’s wrong with this.”
“When you add a room,” Corbett said Monday, “and a garage, and an enclosed porch, you have just about everything that the man down the street in a cottage has, except maybe some privacy...but the homeowner is paying full taxes on a house and land. How fair is that to the homeowner?”
“Then there’s the safety issue,” he said. “I’ve talked with our fire and rescue personnel, and they’re all concerned about what can be stored in these added enclosures. The close quarters can be dangerous if there is a fire in a campground.”
Corbett said several campgrounds around the lake already allow only open decks.
“That’s what I would like to see,” Corbett said. “Nothing to keep a camper from being able to be easily pulled in and out of a space.”