Keys Zone Change May Stifle RV Visits
The Monroe County Planning Commission barely passed a controversial zoning change on Sept. 26 that critics say could make RV spaces harder to come by for visitors to Florida’s Keys, according to keynoter.com.
“If we pass this today,” warned Planning Commissioner Sherry Popham, “we are, in my mind, closing the door to RVs.”
Popham and fellow Commissioner Randy Wall voted against an ordinance that would create a “seasonal residential unit” zone of 11 RV parks in the Keys, giving those parks the flexibility to allow individual residents to add porches or other permanent structures to their vehicles, a move that could make vacant spaces for motorhomes hard to come by.
“This gives us a tool to bring our owners into compliance,” said Manny Lopez, president of Calusa Campground Homeowners Association, one of the campgrounds that would be affected by the change. It, like seven others in the county, is comprised of lots that have been sold off condo-style and belong to individual owners. Over the years, those owners have added porches, storage rooms and other attachments, turning motorhomes into small vacation homes.
“Historically, in this battle of redeveloping a park, residents like to put Monroe County right in the middle,” said Growth Management Director Andrew Trivette. “This lets the parks make the decision of what they want to do when they grow up.”
Trivette says the current zoning – transient recreational vehicle – requires that any vehicle in a park must be moved every six months.
“We’re going to allow them to do exactly what they’re doing now,” he said. “Only the people have to move every 180 days, not the unit.”
In other words, the new zoning would require that people could only stay six months at a time.
The Key Largo meeting room was packed with people on Sept. 26 who own RV lots.
“We’re your best commodity,” said Joe Viardo, vice president of the Calusa Campground Homeowners Association. “We spend all our money here on the weekends. Monday when you wake up it’s your Keys again. We’re gone and you can spend the money you made from us.”
Planning Commission Chairman Jim Cameron said his first thought, when he read the proposal, “was that we’re trying to put up a sign that RVs are not welcome. But now I think individual owners and park owners ought to be able to improve their lots.”
The proposal must still be approved by the County Commission and the state Department of Community Affairs before it becomes law.