Aiken County Council voted by majority to approve changes to the code of laws for RV parks and campgrounds on Tuesday, including an amendment that a buffer yard be installed on all sides of such facilities except in certain cases.
The approved changes are that an RV park and campground be a minimum of 2 acres and that maximum density not exceed 12 vehicles or campsites per acre. Originally, the minimum acreage was 5 acres and the maximum density 10 vehicles.
It was Councilman Gary Bunker who added the amendment requiring buffers: a buffer of between 15 to 20 feet wide must be present on all rear and sides of RV parks or campgrounds, and that a buffer between 5 to 10 feet wide be present along the street frontage. This only applies to RV parks that are between 2 and 5 acres.
The buffer is required except where such a facility borders railroad tracks or creeks as long as there isn't an adjacent residential structure.
A buffer can be plantings, privacy fencing or masonry walls.
Bunker, Council Chairman Ronnie Young and Councilmembers Scott Singer, Kathy Rawls, Chuck Smith, Charles Barton, Sandy Haskell and Willar Hightower voted for the amendment. Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie was opposed.
“It's real easy to see who can benefit from the changes. It's more difficult to imagine the potential harm,” Bunker said.
The changes have been debated by Council for several months.
Caroline Sparks and Bob Samples, both owners of RV parks in Aiken County, have urged Council to make the changes.
“We've had more people in chambers opposed to the changes than people for it. I know y'all are sick of me saying this, but we're basically changing this for two people,” McKenzie said.
She noted a petition signed by approximately 70 residents of Aiken County that oppose the changes.
Singer offered an amendment that any application to open an RV park or campground that is less than 5 acres go before the Planning Commission, be subject to a public hearing, and that signs be posted to let the surrounding area know.
The amendment failed with only Singer and McKenzie voting in favor. Young, Bunker, Hightower, Haskell, Barton, Smith and Rawls were opposed.
The original motion to approve the changes, including Bunker's amendment, passed by majority. Young, Barton, Hightower, Haskell, Smith and Rawls were in favor. Bunker, Singer, and McKenzie were opposed.