Camden approves revised UDO


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, February 11, 2019

CAMDEN — The Camden Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last week to adopt a revised planning document that seeks to strike a balance between development and open space, set standards for commercial development, and encourage residential development in existing “village” areas such as the Courthouse district.

Commissioners adopted the county’s revised Unified Development Ordinance on Feb. 4 after three and a half years of work.

Dan Porter, the county’s planning and community development director, said one important thing the revised UDO does is encourage higher-density development in the county’s village areas that already have access to sewer lines.

That allows the county to add residents while still maintaining open spaces and the county’s “rural feel” because it requires lower-density development in most of Camden’s remaining areas. The regulations are designed to encourage development yet also prevent remaining farm fields from being covered over with houses, Porter said.

That philosophy of development undergirds the revised UDO and reflects the goals of the county’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan, he said.

More compact development around the village areas also will promote economic development, Porter said, because businesses like to see a significant number of houses nearby.

Porter said the newly revised ordinance also creates a new district — mixed-use — that was not in place before and that gives developers options they really didn’t have in Camden.

“It encourages development but it also sets more standards for development,” he said.

Commissioners adopted the revised UDO following a public hearing at which the only speaker was developer Mark Gregory, who commended the board for moving forward with the ordinance. However, he also said he’d like the board to take another look at the water and sewer assessment, which he described as “excessive.”

A public hearing on the revised UDO held in November lasted more than 10 hours over two different days. The board met later to follow up on concerns raised during that hearing and finalize the ordinance.

Porter said last week that the revised ordinance also:

*Strengthens requirements for maintenance of stormwater facilities, including requiring establishment of an escrow account for maintaining stormwater facilities in a subdivision

*Streamlines the review process for major subdivisions and makes preliminary plat approval for subdivisions a legislative decision of the county commissioners rather than a quasi-judicial matter

*‘Cleans up’ the ordinance by eliminating redundancies and contradictions that resulted from years of amendments that had yielded a kind of patchwork ordinance

*Makes the ordinance more user-friendly for the public.