Washington County planners discontinue temporary use permits

Posted: August 3, 2018 at 1 a.m.

The Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County's Planning Department has stopped issuing temporary use permits to landowners.

The move means residents putting on events or using their property for temporary businesses, such as firework stands or flea markets, no longer need the county's permission.

Temporary use permits

Washington County planners issued three temporary use permits from January through May of this year. Those properties are: 15049 Draper Road and 14937 Greenburrow Road; 13298 Kenneth Price Road; and property at the corner of North Rupple and West Weir roads.

Source: Washington County Planning Department

"Temporary use permits were causing a lot of problems," County Attorney Brian Lester said. "We decided that it's really not benefiting or serving anybody."

Property owners should be able to use their property the way they want until that use becomes permanent, Planning Director Nathan Crouch said.

Permanent uses must go through the process for a permit, he said. The process includes review by staff members and law enforcement agencies and Planning Board members for uses outside county zoning codes.

Two board members said Thursday they hadn't been notified about the change and had no comment.

Under the new policy, there's no time frame for considering when the property use might be considered permanent, Lester said. Previously, temporary permits were limited to 15 consecutive days and no more than four times per year, according to documents from the Planning Department.

Lester said the temporary permits started under former Planning Director Juliet Richey, who was fired by County Judge Joseph Wood when he took office in January 2017. The permits aren't in the county's code, and implementation isn't required nor needed, he said.

The Quorum Court approved an ordinance in 2006 allowing the planning director to create rules in the department, said George Butler, a former county attorney and chief of staff for Washington County. The temporary permit was created around 2012, Butler said.

Temporary permits were created to track businesses and to make an allowance for property owners who wanted to use their property temporarily for purposes outside its zoning. For example, an owner whose property is zoned for agricultural use and wanted to charge a fee for people camping during major events won't have to go before the Planning Board, Richey said.

Lester said the problem with the temporary permits is they don't require neighbor notification and staff make the decision even though the county doesn't issue building permits or do inspections. Temporary permits have drawn the ire of some neighbors, who complained in April and May about not being notified about 60 days worth of permits for a moving truck operation at 15049 Draper and 14937 Greenburrow roads near Fayetteville.

The business is longer operating on the property. Crouch said the move away from using the temporary permits isn't related to complaints about the moving business, but temporary permits are "risky" because they lack neighbor notification, he said.

Marty Slaughter, a neighbor who complained about the moving business, agreed with Crouch.

Neighbors deserve to be notified, and the business should have gone through the permitting process, Slaughter said. The county's decision to move away from temporary permits is a good idea, he said.

"I'm sure everybody is relieved that they aren't going to do that anymore," Slaughter said.

NW News on 08/03/2018