Alleghany residents up in arms about "campground" rule

Published: Nov. 8, 2018 at 12:44 AM EST
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When the leaves start to change and there's a chill in the air, many in the Roanoke Valley grab their camper and head for the hills. But a new proposal could change where, and how you can do that in Alleghany County.

According to Shelly Mongold, with the Alleghany County Zoning Board, "it would regulate an individual camping on their property in AR zones, where camping is allowed."

Under the rule, if you live in a camper more than 30 days, you'd be required to get a zoning permit, and conform to building codes. And if you have more than three campers on your property, you'd be legally running a campground, responsible for installing sewer and water lines, among other things.

That has residents concerned. "Alleghany County is a recreation area," said Chuck White," who live in the county and keeps four campers on one of his properties in the summer. "You have a lot of people with hunting camps and other things that are gonna fall under this."

But officials say going after most residents was never their intent.

Instead, it was about planning for the future, according to Alleghany County Board of Supervisors Chair Stephen Bennett.

"In case we get an influx on the commercial side of recreation," he said. "I think a lot of people mistook that to mean we were trying to regulate their own personal use on their own land. That's not where we're going with this."

Faced with so much opposition, Bennett and the board sent the rule back to the planning commission for tweaking. He says they'll try to make sure this rule only impacts commercial campgrounds, which right now have no definition under the law

"We just gotta make sure everyone understands what we're doing before we do it," he said.

Bennett says it could be three months or more before we see an updated version of this rule.