Something isn’t adding up. And I think the homeless people at Occupy are the victims of a some cruel games that were played at the council meeting the other night.
These were the two major issues as to why the council couldn’t extend the Occupy time, the camping permit issues seemed insurmountable and this was an illegal use. And, it appears they were two big fat lies, or if you prefer mis-statements, or mis-understandings or whatever ever nice words you want to use so you indicate untruthfulness by omission or deception.
CAMPING PERMIT DOESN’T TAKE 30 DAYS
Unless I’m missing something, the administrative code says it takes 7 days.
DHS 178.21 Special event campgrounds. (1) GENERAL.
The operator of a special event campground shall submit a letter of application for a permit to the department or agent at least 7 days prior to opening. At a minimum, the application shall include the location of the event, an estimate of the number of people to be accommodated, the number of, type and provisions for servicing and maintaining toilet facilities to be provided, the water supply source and distribution method, and the method of handling solid and liquid waste.
The 30 days is listed for a permanent campground license. Now that I think about it, why couldn’t we just apply for a permanent permit?
WE CAN’T GET AN EXTENSION
Um, this should have been more obvious at the time, but the City Attorney said we couldn’t get an extension because they were there more than 4 months:
DHS sec. 178.03(4) defines campground as a grouping of “camping units.” “Camping units” means a portable device used as “temporary dwelling.” DHS sec. 178.03(17) defines a “temporary dwelling” as a dwelling occupied no more than 4 continuous months in a 12 month period.
As of April 30, the dwellings at Occupy Madison will no longer qualify for a temporary camping permit. We think it unlikely that any request for a permit could be approved under this definition.
Um . . . October, November, December, January, February, March, April . . . that appears to be more than 4 months, why is it a problem now? And what does “unlikely” mean. Is it “unlikely” because the mayor doesn’t support it so staff won’t try very hard?
THIS VIOLATES THE ZONING LAW
Yes, a campground is not a permitted or conditional use on this property. It isn’t anywhere in the city, it doesn’t appear in the zoning code, no matter how hard you look. It can, however, be an accessory use . . . and for the minimal use of the 4.5 acres and due to its temporary nature, I think it qualifies.
Accessory Building Or Use. An accessory building or use is one which:
1. Is customary and clearly incidental to the principal building or principal use;
2. Serves exclusively the principal building or principal use;
3. Is subordinate in floor area, extent or purpose to the principal building or principal use served or is a secondary dwelling unit;
4. Contributes to the comfort, convenience or necessity of occupants of the principal building or principal use served; and
5. Is located on the same zoning lot as the principal building or principal use served, with the single exception of such accessory off-street parking facilities as are permitted to locate elsewhere than on the same zoning lot as the building or use served.
An accessory building or use includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1. A children’s playhouse, garden house or private greenhouse;
2. A garage, carport, compost bin, shed or building for storage incidental to a permitted use;
3. Incinerators incidental to a permitted use;
4. Storage of goods used in or produced by permitted manufacturing activities on the same zoning lot with such activities, unless such storage is excluded by the district regulations;
5. The production, processing, cleaning, servicing, testing, repair or storage of merchandise normally incidental to a permitted retail service or business use if conducted by the same ownership as the principal use;
6. Off-street motor vehicle parking areas and loading facilities; and
7. Signs, as permitted and regulated in each district incorporated in this ordinance.
8. Keeping of chickens, as permitted and regulated in each district incorporated in this
9. Secondary dwelling units.
10. Yard sales.
And, to put it another way, from someone who is far more knowledgeable than I on these issues and who deals with the city zoning code every day . . .
Also, I don’t think we could interpret Occupy as a campground, rather folks are at the site in tents and tent-like structures, but it is not a place of business or occupancy, like a typical campground facility. I’m thinking features like bathrooms, water and other services to transient guest “campers” further an interpretation that a place is indeed a “campground.” There is a sense of permanence with our zoning code, a land use approvals, that does not jive with the temporary Occupy event easily.
So, I’m feeling lied to. Ok, very, very lied to. And just once, I’d like the city attorney to help the Common Council figure out how to do something instead of being a constant obstacle.
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