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Hall County Planning Commission discusses glamping conditions, delays action
Hall County Government Center
Hall County Commission meetings are held at the Hall County Government Center at 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, glamping — a style of camping that includes resort-style amenities — has become an increasingly popular trend.

“It’s a growing trend, and with COVID, it’s an alternative to crowded hotels,” said Cumming resident Paul Price, who is one of two applicants proposing to bring glamping to Hall County.

“For those who want to connect with nature, but don’t necessarily want to set up their own campsite, glamping is becoming a popular option.”

Price is proposing to develop eight campsites with “luxurious outhouses,” a common parking area and a playground on a stretch of lakefront property on Lake Lanier. 

Seven of the 10 acres owned by Price would be used as a “glamping resort.”

Price also owns an adjacent parcel, also zoned vacation cottage, that is about half the size of the other lot and has a house that was built in 1945, according to the document

The outhouses would have traditional plumbing fixtures, according to a county document. Price said that the idea for individual outhouses is to prevent the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 by using shared bathroom spaces

A second applicant has proposed a similar development off Winder Highway/Ga. 53 near Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Planning staff has recommended that a new “glamping” use be added to the uses now permitted in residential and agricultural zoning districts and that requests would need to conform with a number of standards, including that “no campsite shall be rented or occupied for a period of more than 30 days.”

At their Feb. 15 Hall County Planning Commission meeting, the board opted to postpone action on the proposals, the third time that has happened.

Glamping has no classification under Hall County’s zoning laws and applicants would potentially need a special conditional use permit in districts zoned residential, with the approval of the Hall County Commissioners.

“Even though it’s a commercial venture, it’s really residential in nature,” said Planning Director Sarah McQuade. “Where that led us to was requiring this to be a use that is subject to county commissioner approval in our residential zoning districts.”

McQuade said that county staff wanted to avoid spot zoning, which occurs when the use of a parcel of land differs from the surrounding properties in that zone.

“We’ve had a couple of different requests during 2020 for what is commonly known as glamping,” said McQuade. “When we get uses that are presented to us that don’t technically fit in one of our existing permitted uses, we have to bring this before you, because if something is not defined (in our zoning regulations) it’s inherently prohibited.”

McQuade said that the county doesn’t currently have camping classifications within the county’s zoning districts.

But the board did discuss potential conditions and penalties that would be attached to glamping in the county.

Among the ideas floated during Monday’s discussion was applying the “three-strike” rule enforced for short-term rentals to non-conforming glamping sites, which could include permits to be revoked for up to two years. 

Other recommendations for conditions include provisions that would prohibit motorized vehicles from being designated as the glamping site and distance and buffering requirements to prevent sites from being too close to residential property and having access to public waterways and main roads.