Madison’s Board of Zoning Appeals tabled two applications to locate seasonal campers along the Ohio River and approved a third while also finally reaching a decision on a request for a zero line setback that would allow construction of two garages to share a common wall that had been tabled by the board previously.

While the busy, two-hour meeting also included several quickly adopted renewals, the board spent much more time discussing what should and should not be allowed — specifically in terms of seasonal camping and recreational vehicles — in the zone designated as Open Space to the south of Vaughn Drive leading to the Ohio River both in the city limits and the city’s buffer zone.

Three requests came before the board to locate seasonal campers along the riverfront with one approved — a conditional use permit by Susan L. Smith to locate a camper on her property zoned agricultural the 1000 block of East Fulton Street — while the other two were tabled.

Smith’s application on Fulton Street, located just outside the city limits in a mostly undeveloped area zoned agriculture and in the flood plain, was approved for location of a seasonal RV.

The board requested a delay to consult its attorney on the other two applications — a conditional use permit by Richard A. and Ronda L. Stenger to seasonally locate a camp building on a movable frame on their lot at 1410 E. Fulton St. and another by Smith to locate an RV at her property inside the city limits at 926 E. Vaughn Drive.

The board had no basic objections to the Stenger application as long as the structure located at the site is out by Sept. 31 and can be moved in and out quickly in the event of flooding.

The application by Smith drew closer scrutiny due to its location inside the city limits, close proximity to the City of Madison Campground and heavily used riverwalk. Also at issue was the precedent that allowing an RV to set up there might set for other property owners who own land zoned Open Land along the riverfront.

The area of Smith’s application, more commonly known over the years as the “Snake Pit” during the annual Madison Regatta, has long served tent campers on race weekend. It’s located east of the Milton-Madison Bridge just outside the Regatta’s area of control and allows tent camping on the riverfront on race weekend while the Regatta does not.

Smith said a small structure was located on the property several years ago but she had it torn down last fall because it was being frequented by the homeless.

Smith said she was seeking approval to put a camper back in the area this summer — essentially nothing bigger or more than the structure had been in the past — and that she and her family members have been keeping the area mowed and well maintained in recent years.

Kathie Petkovic, owner of the nearby Riverboat Inn, said an area zoned Open Space should be just that and not be open to RVs and other structures that might obstruct the view and aesthetics of the Ohio River for both residents and the tourists that make up one of Madison’s biggest industries.

“When I bought the Riverboat Inn I was told that was Open Space,” Petkovic said of her 8-acre business overlooking the river from high above the north side of Vaughn Drive. “If you allow them in there with RVs, who is next? There’s lots of Open Space on the south side of Vaughn Drive.”

Board members noted that when Smith and her family and friends used the area in the past that was before the Madison Riverfront Development Committee had completed construction of the final section of a multi-million riverwalk that now extends from the Madison Heritage Trail on the west to the city campground on the east. Having RVs driving over that structure could be damaging to a project that was decades in the making and now maintained by the city.

Board chairman Scott Baldwin called for a motion to table the request until the board’s next meeting on July 13. He said that would allow time to consult with the board’s attorney and further access the application.

“I’d like more time to talk this over with our lawyer,” Baldwin said. “... especially with the amount of money people have invested in that riverfront. It’s a very unique thing.”

In other business, the board approved a variance related to property setbacks impacting several property owners in the 200 block of West Second Street. A local Realtor and investor, Pruett filed the application several weeks ago in an effort to put in writing that two homes he is restoring for sale will be allowed to build garages on an adjoining parcel of land he purchased for that purpose as long as they share a common wall.

By being granted a zero setback to share a coming wall and being allowed a setback variance from the edge of those properties, both homes located at 214 and 216 West Second Street will be allowed to build garages that will provide them with valuable off street parking and improve marketability of the homes.

Previously, the board’s issue with the request was one of precedence since it was being asked to approve construction projects that have not yet been proposed other than in a general sense that they might want to build garages in the future.

After tabling the application for additional consideration, the board noted that the work done so far in the area has been an asset to the city and adjoining property owners and adding additional off street parking will be beneficial to not only the property owners but their neighbors, too.

After a 10-minute recess to better define the motion, the application was approved with stipulations that the variances be part of the deeds and signed off on by adjoining property owners. The two properties will be allowed a zero setback between their common-wall garages and a variance allowing the minimum setback on property lines to the east and west to allow up to a 19-foot wide garage on one property and a 17-foot garage on the other.

In other business, the board also tabled an application to build a garage at 724 E. Rear First Street to serve a property located across an alley that divides that property. The situation was so unique that board members tabled the application for further study.