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Thread: Public camping site planning in rural and small towns (short-term recreational camping only.)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Public camping site planning in rural and small towns (short-term recreational camping only.)


    Questions for people with (short-term recreational) public camping site planning experience in rural areas and small towns:

    How is the site planning process different from that in suburban and urban areas?

    Would you share some of your site planning experiences?
    What are some of your biggest challenges?
    What's the very biggest challenge?

    Have you ever participated in the writing of a formal public camping site plan?
    Are you at liberty to share it? (Describe it?)
    How did you get it through the legislative process?

    Re: Increase in campers at these sites due to economic conditions.
    In your area, how large has the increase been in recent years?
    Do you expect it to get even larger this year?
    What, if any, measures have you been taking to accommodate the increase?
    What, if any, measures will you take if there's a significant drop in campers due to a greatly improved economy?



    Many Cyburbians, including myself, have some amazing and funny camping stories that are not directly related to rural (or urban) planning...
    Requesting that you consider sharing some of these stories in the Friday Afternoon Club.



  2. #2
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    We are working on a regulation now to cover that.

    It is not quite ready yet. At first reading it was combined with a manufactured housing code and the planning commission made him seperate it. So I don't have any good examples of how it should work.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have been thinking about the same topic from an economic development point of view. While I do not see communities installing them now, it appears that decades ago, many small towns had a public camping area in one of their parks. I have used them on biking trips in the past, and a friend of mine told of using them many, many times on a bike trip from Alaska to Alabama. There were often no other campsites around. It would seem that these facilities can bring in visitors who then spend money in town. Is it really enough to justify the effort?

    While I did not experience it myself, I have heard that these sites (many free, or nearly so) have begun to attract homeless people who have taken to their tents for shelter.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Camping Management Plans: the good, the bad, and the...

    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    We are working on a regulation now to cover that.

    It is not quite ready yet. At first reading it was combined with a manufactured housing code and the planning commission made him seperate it. So I don't have any good examples of how it should work.
    I have no formal training in rural planning--don't know what constitutes a high-quality Camping Management Plan.

    The following CMP I'll use as an academic example because it looks good. How would *knowledgeable* people rate it?

    Initial (2005) CMP outline--solicits feedback from the public:
    http://www.nps.gov/sacn/parkmgmt/upl...ewsletter2.pdf

    2007 CMP and Environmental Assessment:
    http://parkplanning.nps.gov/showFile...sessment%2Epdf

    Part of the plan 'rating' obviously involves how well it's worked in practice. Does anybody have current info on this?

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    While I did not experience it myself, I have heard that these sites (many free, or nearly so) have begun to attract homeless people who have taken to their tents for shelter.
    A good CMP should have a maximum length of stay and code enforcement. (Like you didn't know that already!). The above pdfs address length of stay.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I have been thinking about the same topic from an economic development point of view. While I do not see communities installing them now, it appears that decades ago, many small towns had a public camping area in one of their parks. I have used them on biking trips in the past, and a friend of mine told of using them many, many times on a bike trip from Alaska to Alabama. There were often no other campsites around. It would seem that these facilities can bring in visitors who then spend money in town. Is it really enough to justify the effort?

    While I did not experience it myself, I have heard that these sites (many free, or nearly so) have begun to attract homeless people who have taken to their tents for shelter.
    Our town is thinking of doing this at our riverside park. The area is beside many residents as well. Most camping places in the counties around here do attract the homeless and transients so we are unsure that we want one close to us but no ordinance has been established or discussed as of yet.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Ours is a real snoozer:

    B. Cabins and cottages. Cabins and cottages shall be treated as transient accommodations; provided, however, that any lot containing cabins and cottages shall contain at least 20,000 square feet.

    C. Campgrounds. All site plans for proposed campground development shall demonstrate that:

    (1) The applicant has obtained all required state permits and licenses.

    (2) Each recreational vehicle, tent, or shelter site shall contain a minimum of 5,000 square feet of suitable land in shoreland areas and 2,500 square feet of suitable land in inland areas, not including driveways and roads, for each site. Land supporting wetland vegetation and land below the normal high water line of a water body shall not be included in calculating land area per site. [Amended 11-5-1991]

    (3) The area intended for placement of the recreational vehicle, tent or shelter site and utility and service buildings shall be set back a minimum of 50 feet from the exterior lot lines of the camping area, 100 feet from the normal high water line of a great pond classified GPA or a river flowing to a great pond classified GPA, and 75 feet from the normal high water line of a tributary stream, upland edge of a wetland or any other body of water. [Amended 11-5-1991]

    (4) The campground shall be screened from all abutting areas.

    (5) Each recreational vehicle, tent or shelter site shall be provided with a trash receptacle.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    The 5,000 sf and 2,500 sf camping sites seem a bit large to me, especially if they are not for RV camping.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Do small towns still allow for someone to camp for a night in their parks? I harken back to many bicycle touring books that I have read in the past where the rider arrives in town and crashes in the town park (with a small tent) until he moves onward the next morning.

    Of course, these were older years. Thinking about our park in the town center, a camper would have to deal with the crowd exiting the bar around 2am. But if asked, I would allow it for one night.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    zman - we don't allow any overnight camping our parks

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Do small towns still allow for someone to camp for a night in their parks? I harken back to many bicycle touring books that I have read in the past where the rider arrives in town and crashes in the town park (with a small tent) until he moves onward the next morning.

    Of course, these were older years. Thinking about our park in the town center, a camper would have to deal with the crowd exiting the bar around 2am. But if asked, I would allow it for one night.
    A friend of mine rode (on a bicycle) from Anchorage to Alabama last summer and spent many nights in city-owned campgrounds that were part of parks, and I guess some really were more like parks. This is much more common in rural places where homeless people are less common and the folks are undertanding of the needs of bike tourists.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Do small towns still allow for someone to camp for a night in their parks? I harken back to many bicycle touring books that I have read in the past where the rider arrives in town and crashes in the town park (with a small tent) until he moves onward the next morning.

    Of course, these were older years. Thinking about our park in the town center, a camper would have to deal with the crowd exiting the bar around 2am. But if asked, I would allow it for one night.
    In Montana, it is fairly common for city parks to allow and even encourage camping in a town park. Lincoln, in my county, for example, has a park that has tent and RV camping, along with ball fields, picnic area, etc. Townsend, in a neighboring county, has a campground, as well, with a children's fish pond, located in town. I have utilized town parks for camping in Nebraska and Wyoming,

    Our county does not have campground regulations. Campgrounds are typically developed on public lands. I have reviewed RV parks and resorts that also have camping facilities. We require they designated spaces for the campsites. We also make camping site comply with our waterbody setback regulations. RV parks, mobile homes and private campgrounds have to be licensed by the state, so the potable water systems and wastewater treatment systems are not part of our review, other than conditioning they get licensed before final plat.

    The county fairgrounds has a campground, which has fallen in disrepair. We passed a tax levy to improve the fairgrounds and one of the goals is to fix up the campground. The fairgrounds facilities are rented for various events and trade shows, and we also host the county rodeo and fair there. One of the amenities for attracting future events and creating better revenues is restoring the campground, so people have a nice place to park their RVs and pop-ups.

    While a planner in Ketchikan I had to deal with a fellow who was renting camping spaces in his yard to people coming off the ferry. He lived in a medium density residential zone in town. To make matters worse, his neighbors was one of the alderman and the borough manager, both of whom objected to late-night visitiors to their neghborhood and taking whizzes in their bushes. Camping was, of course, not a permitted use, but getting him to see the light was not easy. He was the most unpleasant and hot-tempered man I have ever had to deal with.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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