Tuesday March 2nd, 2021 5:31AM

Glamping regulations proving to be challenge for Hall County

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – The Hall County Planning Commission appeared to have finally put into words the terminology that will govern a new zoning classification, but after a lengthy discussion it decided to wait until next month to vote on the matter. 

The measure had already been tabled twice, so commissioners came to Monday evening’s meeting determined to finally make a decision.  And they almost did, but a request from Hall County Planning Director Sarah McQuade to wait and get the county attorney’s approval of the wording of the resolution before a vote is taken led to the matter being tabled.

The source of this ongoing debate and cautious deliberation: “glamping”.

Even the word, glamping, is an improvisation: glamping is a combination of the words “glamorous” and “camping”.

“We’ve had a couple of different requests during 2020 for what’s commonly known as glamping,” McQuade told commission members.  But, McQuade explained, for the purpose of enacting legislation she and her team were calling it, “…transient occupancy of temporary dwellings.”

“It’s when people camp as you normally would but it’s maybe a little more luxurious,” she explained.

“You go to a sight that’s already established and constructed; they’re not having to bring their own tent with them; it’s already set up on a semi-permanent basis,” McQuade said.  “Clients will be coming out to stay in as in a hotel…with luxurious outhouses…and each site would be associated with their own private outhouse.”

McQuade said that at present no Hall County zoning use category perfectly fits glamping.  “When we get uses that are presented to us that don’t technically fit within one of our existing permitted uses we have to bring these before you, because the way zoning regulations work is if something is not defined it’s inherently prohibited.”

“We don’t even have really a camping classification within our zoning,” McQuade said.  “It really blends the idea of an RV or travel trailer park…and even though it is a commercial venture it’s really residential in nature.”

“We really didn’t want this to constitute a rezoning to a commercial designation, because we don’t want to be doing spot-zoning and introducing commercial uses into residential areas.”

Among some of the specific issues of glamping addressed by Planning Commission members Monday evening: requirements for connecting to a public water supply; mandatory public or onsite septic management; a minimum lot area of three acres; 100-feet of road frontage; a 50-foot property line buffer; all campsites must be at least 100-feet from a property line; internal access to campsites only from a common shared driveway within the property; one entrance from the public road onto that shared driveway; and a maximum stay of thirty days for any tenant.

Paul Price of Cumming owns property in the Little River portion of Lake Lanier and is one of the applicants hoping to provide glamping opportunities.  “We have ten acres on Lake Lanier…and we’re planning to do about eight campsites.  It’s heavily wooded…the campsites will be separated, isolated… we’re hoping the campers can’t even see the other campsites.”

McQuade said as the discussions were winding down that it would be prudent to ask Hall County Attorney Van Stephens for his opinion on the wording of the resolution.  “What I would like to do, and I know you don’t want to hear this, is table it one more (time).  I would just prefer to take it to the county attorney and make sure, because I don’t want to have to get into a code revision immediately.”

Commissioners agreed and voted to table the measure for four weeks and reconsider it on March 15th after Stephens has had a chance to study and comment on the wording of the resolution.

(For an example of a nearby glamping opportunity click here.)

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Glamping regulations proving to be challenge for Hall County
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