A Carrabelle woman who wants to put seven RV lots behind her shop, just down from the existing Carrabelle Beach RV Resort, is hoping to secure approval at this Thursday’s city commission meeting.
Pam MCreery’s plan to put in the RV lots behind her Beach Trader shop, at Tin Can Alley, along U.S. 98, got a 2-2 vote at last month’s meeting, with both Commissioner Tony Millender and Mayor Brenda La Paz voting no, and Commissioners Frank Mathis absent.
Commissioners last year gave tentative approval to the proposal, but now McCreery is seeking site plan approval.
The proposal would require two special exceptions, one to allow residential use in a commercial area, since McCreery wants to live on site to operate her store, and a second to allow RVs on the site. The commissioners had no problem with the first special exception, but split on the RV use, and thus did not approve the site plan.
McCreery wants to put in six large, fully-restored Airstreams, in keeping with the growing trend of “glamping” where people prefer to stay in these nostalgic, sleek, silver settings.
“These are older and they’re gutting the insides and making the insides new again and those units would be rented out for vacationers,” McCreery’s consultant Russell Large told commissioners. “It’s not a typical RV unit, more for vacation purposes.”
He said there would be minimal disturbance of the site, with no disturbance of earthwork proposed, but would require the installation of water and sewer, with McCreery paying the tap fees. Her shop is already on city water and sewer.
The site, which was annexed to the city several years ago when the large RV park was put in, grandfathered in McCreery’s personal residential use and now allows it as a special exception.
Millender raised questions regarding fire protection. “You’re leaving natural vegetation which is a good idea but could be creating a fire hazard. Any consideration for fire hazard mitigation?” he asked.
“There’s not a lot of vegetation out there, the yard is not fully vegetated,” said McCreery. “I’m willing to do what I need to do.”
La Paz said that placing the RVs on a quarter-acre lot, only about 10,000 square feet, could mean as many as 14 vehicles would be parked on site.
McCreery said parking would be in front of each RV, as well as in front of the Beach Trader,.
City Clerk Keisha Messer said McCreery’s neighbor has been the only nearby resident to raise issues, and opposed the plan. “Her concern was flooding of her property,” said Messer.
“There’s a drainage ditch between her house and mine,” said McCreery.
City Attorney Dan Hartman said the concern by planning and zoning, which was 3-1 in favor, was compatibility.
“Is RV use on that site it is compatible with the area? We went around on that for a while,” he said.
Millender said he was concerned about the city being consistent with its reluctance to grant permission to put in RVs anywhere but in designated zones where they are a primary use.
“It wasn’t long ago we voted against one,” he said. “For consistency I think I’m going to have to stay consistent.”
But Commissioner Cal Allen countered that this situation was different, given its closeness to the existing RV park.
“Each thing has to be decided on its own,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we have to do that same thing over here. We have a right to make a decision on each issue that comes before us.”
Commissioner Keith Walden, who ultimately supported the plan, said the neighbor’s opposition concerned him. “If your neighbor is opposing this that’s the problem I have with this,” he said. “We do take that into consideration when we issue these variances.”
La Paz said she had spoken with the neighbor personally and heard her opposition. “My concern is a lot of RVs on a small lot,” said La Paz.
Commissioners noted that the neighbor is not a city resident, unlike McCreery.
“I’m a tenth of a mile from the campground down the road,” said McCreery.
“It’s coming out of a curve, it’s densely populated,” said La Paz.
McCreery also noted that her neighbor had a half-dozen old boats on her property.
“I don’t want a fight with a neighbor but her yard is not any better,” she said. “They have a greenhouse nursery on their property, they’re growing and selling flowers out of the property. Annexation should allow some privileges.”