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NEWBERRY – An upscale RV park that is planned for Newberry received considerable attention at the March 22 City Commission meeting. At issue was a proposed change to the City’s Land Development Regulations (LDRs) that would allow longer stays for visitors to Recreational Vehicle Parks and commercial campgrounds. In addition, proponents of the change asked for an increase in the number of Park Model RVs from 10 percent to 40 percent of permitted units.

M3 Development, LLC requested the LDR modifications to accommodate Treehouse Village RV Resort, an upscale RV park/commercial campground, which they are developing in Newberry.

The facility is being touted in part as a remedy for the lack of hotel accommodations in Newberry, especially for recreational events hosted by the City. The longer stay times would more completely accommodate those people who travel south in the fall and return north in the spring, developers say.

The current LDRs allow a stay of up to 90 days. The proposed change would allow visitors to stay for 270 days. Not only would the increased length of stay accommodate seasonal visitors, it would also be useful for people who travel for work where they may stay in an area for a few months at a time.

The applicant, who has an RV resort currently under development in Newberry, contends that the current limitations on length of stay and total number of park models are prohibitive relative to trends in the luxury RV customer market.

Newberry Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas reported that after speaking with other cities about the matter, most had no limitations on length of stay.

At the March 1, Planning & Zoning Board hearing, the Board voted 3-2 to recommend approval of the changes to the City Commission. The Board also requested an estimate of the property taxes that may be generated by the resort.

Thomas said staff did a cursory review of a similar existing local RV resort and derived an estimate of the appraised value per RV spot. Applying that figure to the number of spaces proposed at build-out of the Treehouse Village RV Resort yielded an estimated valuation of $9.8 million, which would equate to some $59,000 annually in ad valorem taxes to the City. In addition to ad valorem taxes, the City will also receive revenue from the electric franchise fees, utility taxes, fire assessment fees and shared sales tax revenues generated by the development of the resort and use by its patrons.

Commissioners raised concerns that approving a change to 40 percent would be too much density, referencing the City’s recently approved tiny homes ordinance, which allowed tiny homes at 30 percent density. The Commission voiced no concerns about length of stay, but wanted a limit of 30 percent.

A motion to approve the ordinance on first reading received unanimous approval.

In other business, a resolution approving construction plans for Phase Five of the Country Way at Newberry Town Center subdivision received unanimous approval. Commissioner Paul Norfleet recused himself from voting on this issue.

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