TCC approves Urban Camping Ordinance

The Toccoa City Commission approved an Urban Camping Ordinance at its recent regular scheduled meeting.

According to City Manager Billy Morse, the city has seen an increase in the number of individuals “camping” within City Parks and other public areas.

He says this also includes private properties being used in violation of the City’s Zoning and Land Use Regulations.

To address this matter, Morse says, an Urban Camping Ordinance has been prepared and will be presented to the city commission.

In the proposed Urban Camping Ordinance it defines the term camp and the term camping as “shall mean occupying or using a public park, public street, or private property for a living accommodation using a mobile, movable, or temporary structure providing shelter, including, but not limited to, a tent, travel trailer, recreational vehicle, park trailer, storage building, storage shed, transportation container, sleeping bag, or blanket; and in the course of such occupation or such use: (a) lying or sleeping in a single place or limited area for any substantial prolonged period of time; (b) cooking or preparing meals; (c) depositing or discharging human waste in areas not authorized by the City of Toccoa for such deposit or discharge; or performing any other activity commonly associated with occupation of a residence.”

The ordinance will prohibit the use of public park or public street to camp or to store personal property.

Additionally, the proposed ordinance lists that “no person may be arrested for violating this section until such person has received an oral or written warning to cease the unlawful conduct. If the violator fails to comply with the warning issued, he or she is subject to arrest for urban camping, which shall be an ordinance violation.”

Vice-Mayor Gail Fry says the city has received complaints from several citizens regarding people camping out in various parts of the city.

Commissioner Terry Carter echoed Fry’s sentiment saying the ordinance is important due to the increased presents of people camping out on public property inside the city.

The Hope Center’s Steve Paysen told the commission that he supports the ordinance.

Commissioner Evan Hellenga made a motion approving the ordinance with Carter seconding the motion.

The motion was approved 4-0.

The commission also waived the ordinance’s second reading.