Camden resident questions council on zoning

Camden’s Trick or Treat set for October 31

By Nathan Hoskins - [email protected]

CAMDEN — Camden Village Council held its bi-monthly meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15, and heard from several residents of the village, approved several ordinances, and set a date for Trick or Treat.

During the public participation segment of the meeting, council heard from Brian Koons, a resident of Camden and local landlord. Koons sought permission from council to separate the mailing address of one of his properties located at 79 North Liberty Street in the village into split-addresses, 79A and 79B. Councilmember Kelly Doran voiced that, due to zoning modifications currently under way in Camden, it is no longer permitted to split a single-family residence into a multi-family dwelling, such as duplexes.

Koons informed council that when he attempted to acquire building permits from the county, he was directed to first obtain the council’s permission to split the residence into two dwellings.

“We have too many rental properties, and when you split houses that creates all kinds of difficulties,” Doran stated. “You have off-street parking, all those kinds of things — the whole point of us to make this (zoning) code was to stop taking single-family houses and chopping them up into rental properties,” he concluded.

Koons explained, before he came into ownership of the property it had been used as a duplex, and now that he is nearing completion of the renovations, he intends to rent the property to responsible tenants.

“I want to rent to people that are young and working, or elderly,” he remarked.

Doran expressed his concerns that splitting properties into multi-family dwellings decreases property value for everyone living in the immediate area.

“It is exactly the opposite direction of the zoning we’re trying to do, and the maintenance code was designed for,” he said. “And it’s unfortunate that you find yourself at this stage of the property — I like you and you take good care of your property, but that’s not what we want.”

Koons replied to Doran by saying a friend of his, Scott Hacker, who was in attendance for the meeting, lives on North Main Street in the village, “And he has a property behind him, which I believe is yours, that the guy has no electricity and has been running a generator for two weeks. He don’t take care of the grass, he don’t do nothing. But if I have a property, I take care of it.”

Doran confirmed he had no doubt Koons will take proper care of the property in question, but remains concerned about the potential of decreasing property value throughout Camden.

Deputy Administrator Benjamin Gunderson pointed out that only one zoning district in Camden will permit new multi-family dwellings once the zoning code goes into effect, and the property in question is outside of said district.

Doran made a motion to grant Koons request, contingent on Koons making off-street parking available for the property, but insisted he would not vote in favor of the decision.

However, Koons did receive all votes in favor, including Doran, and will be grandfathered in after the zoning code goes into effect in coming months.

Many members of council expressed their faith in Koons’ reputation, and the fact that the property was in total disrepair before he purchased it and began renovations.

Hacker also addressed council during public participation regarding a warning he received from law enforcement in the winter of 2021, to “halt” using his four-wheeler to remove snow from around his neighbor’s premises.

“It’s nothing against the town, but when you (plow) with the big truck, you basically pack the cars in. We were shut down while cleaning out the cars.” Hacker inquired what the village policy is regarding the use of four-wheelers, ATVs, and golfcarts in plowing snow.

Koons also commented that he had received a citation in the past for driving on the road with his four-wheeler. Camden Police Officer Stemp remarked that it is, by legality, illegal to drive unregistered vehicles on public roadways.

Council questioned Stemp as to why law enforcement would give warnings and citations when individuals of the public attempt to help their neighbors. Officer Stemp and Village Administrator Rusty Wilson explained, in that particular case, an unnamed individual was plowing snow into the road directly after village workers had cleared the road for safe passage, which created more work for the village and became counterintuitive.

Stemp further explained, should any accidents occur because of the unregistered vehicles operating on the roadways, it would be a liability to the village and Police Department for allowing it.

Councilmember Kate Dusky informed the residents that, due to state law, it remains illegal to operate an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle on public roadways, and state law supersedes any ordinances put in place by the village. Furthermore, it is the legal obligation of the Camden Police Department to uphold state law, as well as the obligation of the Village Council.

Dusky and all members of council thanked the residents for their acts of kindness, and expressed their appreciation for their neighborly concern. Mayor Toni Keesler assured the residents the issue will be investigated further.

In other business:

• Gunderson updated council on an available opioid fund through a rural communities outreach program, which can be used for various narcotic related issues, such as providing Narcan, treatment and recovery processes. According to councilmember Jeff Steele, the fund provides several thousand dollars to the village yearly, for up to 18 years. Gunderson intends to provide more information on the fund in the near future.

• Gunderson also updated council on current branding ideas for the village, such as village logos at each entrance into Camden. The logos presented to council were created free of charge by members of Camden Comeback.

• Gunderson informed council the Tech Center project continues to move forward steadily, with no hang-ups thus far.

• Council approved three ordinances and two resolutions concerning tax increment financing and community reinvestment agreements regarding various ongoing projects in Camden.

• Council set Monday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. as Camden’s Trick or Treat.

Camden Village Council meetings are public meetings held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.

Camden’s Trick or Treat set for October 31

By Nathan Hoskins

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13