A petition before the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals Monday to have a campground at 802 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, was unanimously denied. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
A petition before the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals Monday to have a campground at 802 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, was unanimously denied. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
There won’t be a campground along South Buffalo Street in Warsaw, the Board of Zoning Appeals decided Monday night.

Norman Hoyt petitioned the BZA for a use variance to allow a campground in a Commercial-2 zoning district at 802 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw. The existing land use is a commercial garage, Global Auto, and the adjoining lot is unused, according to information provided on the petition.

Assistant City Planner Jonny Latsko said campgrounds are not listed in the city’s table of permitted uses, so its status has to be determined by the BZA as outlined in the city’s code. The only existing campground in the city is Pike Lake Campground. Hoyt plans to create a campground that would have 13 camp sites, laundry facilities, shower facilities and an office.

In order to be permitted, the campground would need to be in line with all state code, including ADA compliance, electrical and plumbing and any relevant state releases, Latsko said.

The neighborhood is an area characterized by the transition between residential and commercial uses, he said. To the south and west is predominantly residential, and to the north and east is predominantly commercial. The lot is visible from both residential and commercial areas.

The city received an email from Wanda Newsome, 812 S. Lake St., Warsaw, objecting to the campground being put near her neighborhood. Her email states that the place they want to put the campground is too small and very close to her neighborhood.

“We do not want the seasonal people nor the trash and smoke that would come with people camping,” she wrote. “Most neighbors are seniors and unable to deal with the constant noise and aggravation a campground would bring.”

She also states that she would like to “file a formal complaint about the junk cars Global Auto has lined in the tree behind Wildman’s. I have seen people wondering around back there in early morning hours and believe they are possibly sleeping in them. Plus, it looks like a junk lot now. I would like to see them be moved onto Global Auto’s lot instead of the tree line.”

Latsko said it was the recommendation of the building and planning department that “due to the concerns raised by the neighbors, conflict with the comprehensive plan and potential land use nuisances, the planning department does not recommend the board look favorably upon this request.”

Alan Hoyt, Global Auto owner, said the design is to take a piece of unused land, which people have complained about because people walk on it and just hang out there and create a “state-of-the-art” place for people to camp and be with their family. All the requirements of a campground will be met, and it would be designed by an architect. He said it would have a retaining wall to create a sound barrier. Because of the lay of the land, he said he didn’t see smoke being an issue. He also said it would help attract tourism to the area.

Three people attended the BZA meeting against the petition.

Nicholas Prater, a neighbor, said he’s lived on his property for over 10 years and he’s watched the property “in dispute” go from wild life to a “desolate” lot with dirt, trash and construction piles. He said there are abandoned cars on the adjoining lot in the woods. He expressed concerns with the condition Hoyt would leave a campground in based on the current condition of the lot. There also was concern about groundwater, the environment and other issues.

“My concerns are that this would not help the community,” Prater said.

Mary Gearheart said Hoyt’s lot was in her back yard and it has mounds of dirt that have just been “left there.” She said the lot is currently “not pretty.”

The other audience member declined to speak.

After the meeting was closed to the public on the petition, BZA Vice President Rick Keeven asked Hoyt if he had planned to have children at the campsites. Hoyt said yes. Keeven said the Pike Lake Campground had things for children to do, but Hoyt’s small lot didn’t seem to have anything to keep small kids entertained. Hoyt said there was “potential” to do something. He said the piece of property the remonstrators mentioned was not his, but he had the possibility of purchasing it.

Hoyt said the mounds would be moved and they were created during previous construction. He said the barrier would be on the side that faces Wildman Business Group.

BZA member Dan Smith asked Hoyt if he spoke to Wildman CEO Josh Wildman about it. Hoyt said he had and Wildman had no issues with it.

Latsko clarified Hoyt’s parcel touching Buffalo Street is in a C-2 and to the left of it is a parcel in a Residential-1 zoning district. BZA President Tom Allen said the property in question seems to be more in the R-1 zoning district. Latsko showed an aerial map of the parcels in question, which showed the proposed campground site was in an R-1.

BZA member Jeff Johnson made a motion to deny the request, saying the property being in an R-1 “just isn’t going to work.” Smith made the second, and the motion to deny was approved unanimously.

In other business, the BZA:

• Approved 3-1 the petition from Raphael Cunha for a variance from development standards to allow for additional paving beyond what is allowed in a Residential-3 zoning district at 415 N. Washington St., Warsaw. The existing land use is a residential three-family dwelling.

R-3s allow a maximum impervious lot coverage of 65%. Proposed additions would take the lot coverage to somewhere between 70 and 75%.

Smith voted against the petition.

Cunha also petitioned for a variance from development standards to allow for a higher density of units than currently allowed. The petitioner wants to convert an existing garage into a fourth dwelling unit. Regulations require 8,500 square feet of lot for the first two units in a home, followed by an additional 1,500 square feet per unit. Four units would require an 11,500-square-foot lot. The lot is 8,734 square feet.

That request was approved unanimously, 4-0.

There were no remonstrators to either petition.

• Approved of the 2021 schedule of meetings. Meetings are the fourth Monday of every month except December’s meeting will be Dec. 28.