October 1, 2013

Town proposes zoning changes


---- — CHAMPLAIN — The Town of Champlain’s draft amended zoning law includes changes to provisions for storage and use of travel trailers.

Scott Allen of AES Northeast, who served as a consultant on the project, said the changes allow a clearer understanding of the allowed occupancy and storage of such campers.

“It really is less restrictive than what the old ordinance said,” he said. 


Town of Champlain Codes Enforcement Officer Michael Tetreault said infractions of the existing rule have become more of an issue, with increasing complaints. He said he has been holding off until the new law is in place.

“Once we have the new law going forward, that’s the one I’m going to enforce,” he said.

Previously, the town zoning ordinance stated no travel trailer located outside a travel-trailer park could be connected to water, sewer or electrical utilities except for a temporary 15-day period. In addition, a travel trailer could not be inhabited or used for sleeping or eating quarters for more than 15 days per year.

The third provision stated travel trailers could not be stored on a property except that of the owner and with an existing residential structure on that property.


The draft zoning law says a travel trailer can be inhabited only if a permit is received from the town. That permit is valid for a maximum of 120 days, and only one permit per parcel can be granted per year.

No fee for the permit was established with the draft version of the law.

After 120 days, the trailer must be removed from the property for a minimum of 245 days before another permit can be obtained.


The trailer must be connected to adequate water, sewer and electrical service while occupied. The Clinton County Health Department is responsible for certification of wastewater systems, Tetreault said, but many trailers have self-contained units.

John Kanoza, director of the Health Department’s Environmental Health and Safety Division, said the best option, from the department’s perspective, would be to have each trailer connected to an individual septic system. 

The next best option would be to use portable disposal units to drain on-board storage tanks and take the waste to a site set up for wastewater disposal, he said.

Electrical connections must be inspected by a qualified electrician. 

As many as two trailers can be stored outdoors on a property that includes an inhabited residential structure, according to the draft law, but nowhere else. No travel trailer can be parked for a rental purpose.


The revised zoning map reduces the number of zoning districts from 24 to 13. Allen said that was done because some of the distinctions between districts were very minor.

In addition, the process for obtaining a special-use permit has changed. 

Previously, the Zoning Board of Appeals handled that from the outset. Now, the Planning Board will examine that when plans are submitted and make a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The entire amended zoning law was rewritten to make it easier to read and understand, Allen said. 

The process started when the Town Council appointed a temporary Zoning Amendment Advisory Committee in June 2012. Eleven meetings, all open to the public, were held to gather input for the draft amended law.

The draft has been found acceptable by the zoning and planning boards that serve the town, as well as the Clinton County Planning Board.

The Town Council has scheduled a public hearing on the draft amended zoning law and zoning map for 7 tonight at the Champlain Town Office Complex, 729 Route 9. 

The draft is available on the town’s website, 

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