Webber adopts revised camper ordinance

Restricted camping zone established

WEBBER TOWNSHIP -- Following months of meetings and public input, the Webber Township Board of Trustees adopted a revised camper ordinance during its recent meeting.

Amendments to the ordinance include establishing a "Restricted Camping Zone" in neighborhoods around permanent residences, and limiting camping and accessory structures within that zone and clarifying what is considered allowable campers and tents.

Trustee Dan Cousar told the Star that in the restricted zone, no new camping permits will be issued, however, those that already exist will be allowed to remain and will be allowed to renew permits.

The ordinance specifies the specific boundaries of the restricted camping zone, and states that no accessory structures, building or additions may be constructed on a lot where a recreational vehicle is located within the restricted zone.

"This (ordinance) has been recommended for approval by the planning commission," township supervisor Ernie Wogatzke said. "There are some things in here I am not too fond of, but this is what the planning commission recommended."

A resolution for a moratorium on part of the ordinance was also adopted during the meeting, that would restrict a portion of the ordinance that states that recreational camping vehicles will not be allowed in certain areas.

The moratorium is being put in place so that the planning commission can take another look at the ordinance and consider a change in the wording from 'not being permitted at all' to 'not permitting new campers,' township treasurer Pat Williams said.

The moratorium will not restrict recreational campers on private land outside the restricted zones, or recreational campers that were issued an annual permit in May 2020, Wogatzke said.

Williams said she would also like the planning commission to look at the portion of the ordinance regarding accessory structures.

"I have a concern with the accessory structures in the restricted zones," Williams said. "The moratorium would be for new campers, but the ones that are already there should have no larger than an 8X10 shed for storage, as well."

The moratorium will provide an opportunity to relook at the ordinance as a whole and make whatever changes are needed, Cousar said.

"We have to approve the ordinance as it is and then send it back to the planning commission for any changes," Wogatzke said. "The moratorium will be for 90 days."

Cousar said the ordinance was moved through in order to give the zoning administrator something to work with during this camper season.

"The board still has some questions about some parts of the ordinance, and those will be addressed during the moratorium period," he said.

Prior to making changes to the camper ordinances, the board hosted several public input sessions where campers and residents expressed their concerns.

Some of the issues brought up by residents included subdivisions getting inundated with campers causing problems for permanent residents and homeowners; multiple camping units crowding residents' homes; excessive noise; high traffic and speeding; and trash being left behind.

Seasonal campers expressed concerns that they were being blamed for things that were not of their doing, and that the real concern was in the enforcement of the current ordinances.

Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wiggins said during a previous board meeting that it came down to two main issues, noise and congestion in the residentially zoned areas, so "those are what the planning commission will be looking at amending."

To address the noise issue, the township posted a "noise complaint" form on its website that goes directly to the zoning administrator for follow up.

Establishing a restricted camping zone is intended to address the issues of congestion in residential areas.

The amended ordinance can be viewed on the township website at webbertownship.org, or at the Webber Township Hall, 2286 W. Springtime St., Baldwin.

In other business, the planning commission is reviewing a request to establish a storage facility in the commercial district.

"We don't currently allow for storage facilities in the commercial zoned district," Cousar said. "It has been talked about amending the ordinance. We are basically going to consider adding storage facilities to the list of allowable businesses in the commercial district."

A public hearing regarding the proposed amendment is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. May 28. For information on how to participate in the public hearing visit webbertownship.org, the Webber Township Facebook page, or call 231-745-3471.