July 9, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Addressing Heard County camping ordinances

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter after visiting the June 27 Heard County Commissioner’s meeting to try to find help with an ordinance change under June Jackson.

The ordinance in question affects the entire county, not just my district, so everyone should pay attention and ask for this ordinance to be reinstated to its originally state. These ordinances were put into place because they were deemed necessary!

The ordinance concerns temporary housing and the permitting of camping within the county.

The original ordinance reads: Sec 30-56: No Temporary dwelling utilized as such may be used for more than six months…. 

Under the OLD permitting section 30-58:

b) Each permit shall be issued for a definite duration. No permit shall be issued for a period longer than four months at one time. An applicant shall not be eligible to reapply for an additional permit for 30 days after the initial permit has expired. 

d) A permit shall not be issued for longer than four consecutive months and in all cases such permit shall not be issued for a time period longer then applicable hunting season, plus an additional l week either side of the hunting season dates. 

Sec. 30-60 Maintenance. Permanent electrical hookups, sewer or water or other utility service shall be prohibited. 

The majority of the old one was removed and replaced with ONE line: b) No permit shall be issued for a period longer then twelve months.

The ordinance stating that you can only occupy a temporary dwelling for six months while building a permanent residence is still in place but you can have a camper on a property for twelve months and then renew your permit!

What happened to me personally was my mother bought a retirement property after she had spent a year visiting it and readying it for her retirement.

The house next door was in foreclosure and the property divided. A man from our neighboring county bought the three acres of the back portion of the property, which was covered with trees, and he decided to make a campsite. He put in a driveway, a mailbox, and a dog pen, making him a little home.

I called Robert Nelms from Heard County codes enforcement. Twice he made the man remove his camper for the 30 days, which was the code in place, and then he would be right back. I talked with June Jackson and ended up referred to the county lawyer, because she was not willing to help me with the matter.

My new “Neighbor “ was denied electric hook up from all property adjoining him so he dug his own way across the front property and put in water and electric.

Jodie Jones addresses the Board of Commissioners on June 27 during Public Comments

Jodie Jones addresses the Board of Commissioners on June 27 during Public Comments

No one had yet bought that property and now the new owners were told, by our commissioners, that it is a civil matter and they would have to sue to have him remove it. I called Robert Nelms repeatedly! During the time, Mrs. Jackson referred me to the county lawyer.

Unknown to me they decided it was necessary to change the ordinance. I was not informed nor allowed to speak to the commissioners as to why it should not be changed. Mrs. June Jackson and Robert Nelms pushed it through and it was approved.

When I called about “my neighbor,” I was told he now has a 12-month permit. I was told that they had been issuing camping permits like that for a while. Instead of making them abide by the ordinance in place THEY CHANGED IT!! He can now renew it each year and camp endlessly!!!

If you do not want a camper as a neighbor, you need to come to the commissioner meetings on the last Thursday of the month and voice your opinion on this matter. I plan to request this ordinance be reinstated and then enforced!

My husband and I are 20-year residents and have a 20-acre horse farm about two miles down the road and the new owners in front of the campsite are long-time, 30-year residents, and they have a beautiful large brick home. My mother bought her property as a retirement place, she resided in Ohio, and now she wants to be near family.

It was more than an acre off the road and was quiet and serene. Now she hears dog and puppies barking (yes he is breeding and selling puppies), loud partying, drinking, and vehicles coming and going and her view is of a campsite instead of trees! Please talk to your commissioners!


Jodie Jones

Franklin, GA


Have an opinion you wish to voice? Send Letters to the Editor to editor@heardcitizen.com.


  1. John E Roberts Jr says

    I have one problem, If he owns the land, and he pays his taxes on that land. It is his land. his property to live on how he chooses. It may be all he can afford. and that is fine. This is a fine line. In America we have the right to live free on our land. I do not agree with anyone telling me I have to have electricity or water ect. If I choose to use lanterns, candles and wood for heat and light as well to cook with. then so be it. If he gets a generator that is fine too. You see we can not judge people based on their ability to afford luxuries we choose. Now that being said, in a community or development, things are different. you buy the property with rules that all people in the planned community know and agree to. A neighborhood or development is where you may need to live. they dictate the conditions all people will live by. more and more Americans are living like this man chooses to live. He has that right. I think Heard County has done the right thing, Too much government, too many rules, too many laws are destroying our freedom in America! Let him live on his land as he sees fit! What would you have him do? be homeless?

  2. Joseph holt says

    I agree 100 percent !!!!! If he owns the land and not in a community with a H O A he can live there as he chooses. Maybe he doesn’t want to live around a horse farm. I stand with heard co decision

    • Keith Tompkins says

      Yes…Right, wrong or indifferent,(and whether you agree with what has happened or not) personal/real property rights have to be protected.

  3. Thanks for bringing this to light. This is a great idea! I think I just might sell my house and go this route!

  4. John E. Roberts Jr says

    Many Americans are doing this, they retire, buy a Motorhome or Camper and set up 2 or 3 properties around the Country. one here, one in Missouri and maybe one in Montana and have a Shed and RV cover with a deck built and live 6 or 8 months at one then move to another for a couple months and then the other for a couple months. Then back to the Main one here. Some people find it very enjoyable and affordable to live off the grid. meaning without public electricity or water ect. I mean lets face it, living with a well, fireplace, candles and lanterns. a small garden ect worked just fine for years. and it does not cause global warming! This is the Country, raising Dogs, Goats, Hogs, Cattle, Chickens and so on is why we live in the Country. as long as it does not cause unsanitary runoff or pollution on the surrounding community all is well.

  5. This person is not even a resident of Heard County and this is in a residential area NOT out in the country side where no one would probably care. There are camping sites and state parks for those who wish to live in campers.There has to be rules, no one respects each other privacy if there aren’t. If our county ordinance says you can only live in temporary housing for six months when you build a home then you shouldn’t be able to live in temporary housing (camper) for 12 months at a time.Theses ordinances were voted on and put into place for a reason. One person should not decide for all, which is what they did when they decided to change the ordinances that were already in place. This person has a residence in Coweta county he should go live there!

    • Kay Hemmings says

      If he owns land in Heard county and that is where his camper is that means he is a Heard county resident too

  6. Joseph holt says

    I thought you owned a horse farm? wouldn’t that be agricultural not residential

  7. John e. Roberts Jr says

    Residential? if you have 20 acres and horses? That is a mostly Agricultural area, and if he owns the land he can stay on it. Residential type of living you are talking about is lots laid out in a subdivision with rules for residents of said subdivision or development. If you live in Heard County, in an area of sections of land, that are of different sizes and dimensions then that is not a residential community. So its ok for you to have Horses in a residential area but not for him to have dogs? Heard County is lucky to not have grown into an area like Atlanta. We have had mostly good planning and zoning to allow us to remain “COUNTRY” WHERE WE CAN LIVE HOW WE SEE FIT ON OUR LAND THAT WE BUY AND PAY FOR! We pay for it, we pay our taxes and we live the American dream! Free. as long as we do not infringe on the safety of the surrounding folks. And Camping is his right as well if he owns the land. It boils down to the fact that Its a free country to live and be what you want to be on your land, If you wanna play Cowboy and ride horses, Good for you. If he wants to be camper good for him, All I can say is build a fence or plant some trees and leave other people alone to live! Heard County has gone in a Great direction. allowing his rights to live on his land. As I understand it in Heard County we only have a few residential communities, Franklin, Ephesus, Centralhatchee and a few tiny little areas. other than that its all yours. And one person did not decide for all, They, the Heard County Commission did what was right and gave people back their rights to use their land as they see fit.

  8. Welcome to Heard County. We have poor people here. Not all of us can afford a twenty acre horse farm in a residential area. Newsflash, honey, the world doesn’t revolve around you. The reason we elect commissioners in the first place is so they can apply the rules with the best interest of everyone in mind. It’s actually quite disturbing to see how you use quotation marks throughout your letter. Is this person somehow beneath you because he has dogs, or drinks, or can’t afford or doesn’t want a fine brick home? And I dare you to find any place where you don’t hear vehicles coming and going. The only thing I’ll be telling my commissioners is, “Good job!”

  9. susan smith says

    I live close to this situation and i NEVER hear dogs, partying or see lots of cars coming and going. As for the fine brick home it’s stucco and i dont think the man that owns it even lives there!!!!! It is not residental…..

    • No but I live not even 400 ft from his camper on my moms property next door and I hear every thing that goes on there and I see with my pwn eyes the 3 large shepard dogs and puppies I have been here a year now and there was carrying on going over there yelling partys etc etc.I live here to watch my moms house while she is away because it was broken into last time she left here

  10. I think I know this lady My uncle use to live next to her she always called the sheriff every time she heard any noise he use to play music

    • When someone is playing drums and has microphones and amplifiers at 1 and 2 am and I am in my house with the windows and doors shut but can still here them, then I believe this is a noise nuisance. My husband had to go to work at 5:30 am and I had two children who needed to sleep for school. Yes I called someone to go ask them to shut it down repeatedly!

  11. I don’t know any of the parties involved but I believe we should be able to do whatever we want on our own land (excluding illegal activities, of course). If I own land and want to live in a tent then that is what should be allowed. It’s my land. That’s the problem we have nowadays, everyone wanting to tell everyone what to do on their own private property.

  12. We own 14 acres in Heard Co. with a trailer that we live in during the summer months. We wanted to bring our camper there (we live in it during the winter in MS) We were told we could not live in it year round and that we could not get electricity run for the camper. We were told we could live in it for 6 months while we tore down the old trailer to replace it or build a house. 6 months is not long enough for us to do that. I really don’t agree with the county ordinances. We are many miles away from town and we have to abide by the same ordinances that the people who live in the city do. I agree that we should be able to live our lives on our own land as we see fit as long as it doesn’t affect the people who live around us. We have rules and laws and as much as we dislike some of them, we have to abide by them.

    • John E. Roberts Jr says

      Now is the time to contact the County Commission. We all support your right to live on your property that you own and pay taxes on. live in a camper, a mobile home,a Cabin or a big fancy brick house. as long as you do not cause harm to the environment or surrounding property and abide by zoning. Residential, AG, Commercial ECT.

    • I also have a question. Why do we have to have 5 acres to build a house on and the man with the camper only has to have 3 acres. That really doesn’t make alot of sense now does it. Hmmmmmmm………….

      • John E. Roberts Jr says

        One of the reasons for 5 acre rule is to stop just the kind of thing we are talking about here, Privacy. 1, 2 or 3 acre tracts causes a density problem and ruins the whole “COUNTRY LIVING” concept. most people want freedom to live their way, that could be with horses, chickens, cattle, dogs, cats or maybe a quiet little spot in the middle with nothing, whatever. they may like getting together with friends and playing music outdoors or hunting for squirrels or deer. it is well known when you start letting people live on top of one another the trouble starts. calling 911 or politicians to complain. wide open spaces are what Heard County has tried to keep. there are some exceptions, some small pockets where some people managed to break land up smaller, but that has been limited. on another note, IF you allow Lots ie: 1 acre or less you end up with developers and subdivisions which then turns to crowded schools, crowded roads and increased demand for services like Fire, EMS and Law enforcement and increased taxes. I think most of us who live here in Heard County do so because we have such great guidelines to manage our County by keeping it small and quiet with less congestion. it is also great to have enough space to be able to do exactly what we have been talking about, live on your own land as you see fit! We must keep a hard fast rock solid plan to limit lot building size or the Money hungry developers will come in and destroy our County.

        • That was not an answer. We cannot live on our own land as we see fit because of the county ordinances. Then someone comes along and goes against county ordinances and what happens. Nothing. We live 10 miles out of town and 2 miles back in on a dirt road. Why should we have the same ordinances as those who live in town? I abide by those ordinances because I am a law abiding citizen, but it just isn’t fair or right when some people are allowed to do what others can’t.

          • Joseph holt says

            But remember the guy has been found in compliance with the county and giving a 12 month permit so he not gone against the ordinances. There is such of a thing as a variance you can apply for in certain situations and hardships that the county commissioners can vote on and approve or deny that includes building on less than 5 acres,putting in a camper,moving in a mobile home, being to close to the road,etc,etc it is always on a case by case basics.

          • Believe it or not, my husband did ask about a variance and they told him that we could not get a variance. So we have just left it alone. Like I said before, there are rules and ordinances we have to abide by. We don’t always like them, but we have to obey them. We like Heard Co. and will always be there I’m sure. But I also believe that change is good and sometimes better.

        • If we are going to side with property rights we must not limit an individuals right to do as they please with their land… to include 1ace lots.

  13. Thank you to the citizens that understand where I am coming from. I am not against anyone enjoying their own property, but when it interferes with others enjoying their property it is a problem. Rules and ordinances are to be followed by everyone not just some and they should not be changed without the citizens of that county informed and allowed to vote or at least voice their opinions for or against it. When I lived in a closer community, I have had a neighbor knock on my door in the middle of the day and tell me my music was to loud and their child needed to nap and asked me to turn it down. I did that out of respect to my neighbor. When I have wanted to build on my property I have had to get permits and be inspected to meet codes. We have animals and they are kept on our property, if they ever leave our property or bother a neighbor we would be responsible. My husband and I both work forty hour weeks, we board others horse, teach riding lessons and do what ever we need to do to pay our bills. Our horse farm has been a dream of ours and we built it post by post that we ourselves put in the ground. I am asking that our commissioners do what they were voted into office to do and protect the rights of the citizens of this county and make everyone follow the same set of ordinances and codes.

  14. Joseph holt says

    And it looks like there doing there job and protecting this citizen’s rights to live on his property!!!!

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