County Brings Back Co-Op Campground Talks

SNOW HILL — Though it seemed dead on arrival when introduced to the Worcester County Commission in August, two commissioners this week chose to resurrect discussion on possible cooperative campground changes that would allow the enclosure of porches.
Commission President Bud Church and Commissioner Jim Bunting both decided to add their name to an application that calls for the allowance of enclosed porches on cooperative campgrounds. This comes as a reversal of both commissioners’ earlier decision not to move the bill forward when it was first presented on Aug. 20.
The proposed text amendment application was originally submitted last winter by attorney Mark Cropper on behalf of the Bali Hi Cooperative Campground. The application seeks an alteration to the county code that would allow porches in co-op campgrounds to be bounded by “temporary roll or soft plastic enclosures.” This is not the first time in recent memory that a similar application has been submitted and Cropper’s proposal did not seem likely to gain traction, receiving an unfavorable staff and Planning Commission recommendation as well as a number of concerns from Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon.
After finally reaching the County Commission, no commissioner was willing to add his or her name to the amendment, which is required to move it forward. At the time, multiple commissioners cited staff’s fears that enclosed porches would lend permanency to structures at co-op campgrounds and drastically change their intended use.
After talking to Bunting, Church reintroduced the application this week and defended his decision by saying that he had concerns over the dismissal of the document but did not act on them at the time.
“The problem that I had was that I felt we probably should have a hearing on it and we never got back to that before there was a motion and a second made to my comment,” Church said. “I’ve found out lately that Mr. Bunting also had a concern about it.”
According to Bunting, the applicant deserves a chance to argue their case in front of the commission.
“In light of the expense of doing this for the applicant and them not having an opportunity for them to present their case to the commissioners, I would be willing to put my name on it,” he said.
Commissioner Judy Boggs questioned whether it was fair to bring the application back from the grave after it had already failed. Boggs also reminded her colleagues that applications similar to the one submitted by Cropper requesting enclosed porches at co-op campgrounds have come up multiple times in the past and always denied.
“Mr. President, it’s my recollection, and the minutes also indicate, that no one wanted to put their name on the bill. I mean if anyone had an objection, that’s the time we should have done it. We have gone over this in the past. We had some testimony there. We had questions and to my recollection they were answered. At this point, I think it’s a waste of time and money to go ahead with this when we’ve done it before, ad nauseum.”
Boggs asked County Attorney Sonny Bloxom if the application could legally be brought back. Bloxom informed her that it could but that the commission could vote on it now on whether to move it forward. Boggs made a motion for that vote but it failed.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley told her that while he agreed that “if commissioners don’t wish to put their name on a bill, then technically that should end it,” he was willing to extend a general courtesy to Bunting and Church and not contest them bringing back the application. Bali Hi will now have a chance to argue in front of the commissioners this fall.