Citizens living in travel trailers are becoming a big issue throughout Upson County, Susan Morris, Code Enforcement Officer for Upson County told the Board of Commissioners last week. Morris stated the county ordinance prohibits anyone from doing so, yet she has come across many violators in her line of work.
“I’m bringing this up because when I am out there in the field working, I’m noticing this issue popping up more and more,” said Morris. “Our county ordinance in all of our zoning districts-A-R, R-1, R-2, R-4 and R-5, all have this paragraph: ‘The parking of one unoccupied travel trailer, motor coach and pleasure boat.’ Can you have a travel trailer on your property? Yes, you can. Can it be occupied? No, it cannot.”
A travel trailer is defined as a vehicle designed as a temporary dwelling for travel or recreational use not more than eight feet in width and not more than 30 feet long, but Morris stated she is finding a multitude of people using their travel trailers for longer than what is considered a “temporary” dwelling. At last Tuesday’s BOC meeting, she gave the board examples of 12 she has documented as in violation and noted there are at least 20 more that she knows of throughout the county, the majority of which are surrounded by junk, trash and debris and do not have adequate septic systems in place. One example Morris gave is on Rocky Bottom Road where a lady simply had dug a hole in the ground and put some lime in it to serve as her septic tank. She added something had been done about that because neighbors complained of the smell of raw sewage. Another is on Crest Highway where the travel trailer is parked behind a house and in addition to having improper sewage connectivity, it is surrounded by piles of garbage because the owners do not have trash service either.
Morris stated the ordinance is designed to protect against things such as the examples she gave.
“Some of the things the zoning ordinance helps with is hazardous traffic patterns, secure safety from fire, panic and other dangers; assures that adequate light and air are provided; prevents overcrowding of our land, facilitates adequate provision of public utilities and facilities and I highlighted this part: promotes adequate living conditions and sustains suitability of neighborhoods and protects our property against blight and depreciation.”
There are two instances that allow for someone to live in their travel trailer in Upson County, one is if they are over the age of 65 and can prove they have financial hardships that prevent them from living elsewhere, and the other is if they are building a house. Morris stated a special exception has to be filed through the Building and Zoning Department for either of these reasons and she has only come across two families who are currently living in a travel trailer while building their house. For the others, she has heard every type of excuse there is and was even threatened by a gentleman living on the Flint River when she confronted him.
“These problems are coming up more and more,” said Morris. “Something has been done in the past, such as sending out letters, but not much (has been enforced).”
Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston thanked Morris for her support and told the board he thought they all needed to study the ordinance before they took any action. The board agreed and decided to discuss the matter in depth at their next work session on November 3.
In other business, County Manager Jim Wheeless told the board he and Road Superintendent James Melton had identified several roads off the priority list to be paved this coming year using the LMIG funding. The roads are: Kudzoo Street (from Sunnyland Drive to Shady Drive); West Moore’s Crossing; Roberts Street; Kennedy Street(to the dead end); Jones Road (from HWY 74 to County Line Road); Bonds Road; Lanier Road (from Triune Mill Road to Waymanville Road); MLK Jr. Drive (from Zorn Street to Old Talbotton Road); Old Alabama Road (from Jeff Davis to Atwater Road). Wheeless stated the paving will consist of 6.53 total miles and is estimated to cost $546,874.35. However, the county will get $413,615.54 in LMIG funding to go twards the projects, of which they have a 30 percent match that equals out to $124,084.66 which will come from the SPLOST account. The commissioners approved the list and Blackston told the crowd that while the county cannot campaign for the SPLOST that is to be voted on today, he would like to point out that it is where the county is able to get their matching funds for the road projects.
“So it is vitally important for the sake of the county that we continue the SPLOST at any way possible,” stated Blackston.
Finally, Commissioner Steve Hudson stated the geologist is supposed to be in town on November 4 to look at the site for a well on Mauldin Road to serve the Lincoln Park area.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1