Camping Ordinance Under Review in Sturgis, S.D.

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June 20, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Main Street in Sturgis, S.D., during the annual motorcycle rally in 2009. Many of these bikers become tent campers at night.

It’s back to the drawing board for the proposed camping ordinance in Sturgis, S.D.

The Sturgis City Council on Monday (June 18) sent the issue back to its ordinance committee for some fine tuning, specificially concerning how far away from lot lines campers must be on a person’s property and rules on providing parking for the temporary visitors, the Rapid City Journal reported.

City officials say the ordinance is written in a way so as to keep the state at bay with their campground laws, while being easy to understand and as lenient with residents as possible, although still regulatory.

One residents says he appreciates the effort, but believes the city’s nuisance ordinances will suffice.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said Bill Davis. “Keep it simple.”

Davis said he also believes the city staff have enough to worry about during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held each summer without having to police whether residents are following code on a camping ordinance.

“During the rally you don’t have time to deal with this,” he said.

The original ordinance was presented at the Sturgis City Council meeting earlier this month and was met with much trepidation and concern. City officials presented a new ordinance last week at a public meeting with some changes made to it, which residents still had concerns with but was more pleased with than the original.

The ordinance would allow temporary camping within residential areas of the city. Currently there are only two places in the city of Sturgis that are zoned for camping, Sturgis RV Park and a portion of the Days Inn.

Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie told those gathered for the meeting last week that much of what the ordinance is trying to do is to define a public campground and a private campground.

A public campground, Ainslie said, would be considered a campground that is advertised as being open to the public and is profitable to the owner. A private campground is one that is used mainly for friends and family members. A public campground would fall under state laws and regulations.

The ordinance states that a campground cannot exceed 19 campers on each residential parcel. Many residents did not approve of this regulation, however, stating that some residents may have big enough parcels to hold more than 19 campers and they should not be discriminated against.

Other suggestions were made for wording, such as requiring residents to measure the square footage of their yard to determine how many campers they are allowed to have on their property.

The sticking points Monday were the requirement that tents may not be placed within five feet of the section line (the original proposal stated 10 feet, but it was later revised) and that residents need to have enough parking for campers in accordance with the size of their lot.

Ron Waterland encouraged fellow council members to strike the setback and the parking portions of the ordinance.

“It’s going to be hard to regulate. They (the portions) are going to cause us some problems in the future,” he said.

Once the ordinance committee of the city council reviews and makes its recommendations, the ordinance will again be presented to the full council.

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