Park Operator Butts Heads with City Planners
A businessman once again is butting heads with Alton, Ill., officials, this time over whether he must pay $25 for each city inspection of sewer hookups to temporarily parked RVs and campers.
Mike Storey, who is sub-letting some of the southernmost 125 pads at Enchanted Village mobile home park, said the $400 annual business fee he is paying to the city was designed to cover the cost of inspectors regularly walking through the area to check on the connections at the sewer and at the trailer or RV, according to the Alton Telegraph.
"It is totally ridiculous. They set up the fee so the inspectors could walk through every week or two" and see that the vehicles are connected properly, Storey said.
Storey has had disagreements with the city over developing the Fosterburg Road-Culp Lane and Grand Avenue areas, among other issues, for more than a decade. He said city ordinance doesn't specifically require the permit fees for individual recreational vehicles or trailers, because they are not "dwellings."
City ordinance also does not require occupancy permits or inspections of the units' conditions.
Storey's family once owned Enchanted Village (formerly Storeyland Mobile Home Park), west of Stanley Road and north of Storey Lane. He began leasing the lots late last year to people coming to the area mostly to work on the expansion of the WRB Refining Wood River Refinery. Some workers also might be coming for projects at Powerhouse and U.S. Steel, Storey said last fall.
He said he has had 22 or 23 tenants come in since then, each staying for a minimum of one week.
"In mid-February, it really took off," Storey said. "Next week, 30 of them are supposed to come in."
City staff had told Storey that if he didn't pay the $400 or so from previous inspections by Tuesday (April 21), that Public Works Director Jim Hernandez would issue a stop-work order prohibiting any more RVs or trailers from coming into the park.
This is the second time in recent months that Hernandez has threatened Storey with the stop-work order. Storey paid the money last time, both men said.
"If it keeps on, it might jeopardize his (special-use) permit," Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he gave Storey a "reprieve" of one day, until today, to pay.
Hernandez also planned to talk with Corporation Counselor Jim Schrempf about the city's ordinance. He said the purpose of the inspections is to "keep people safe, so the sewer gases don't go up into the trailers and kill someone."
The $25 fee is to pay for the inspector's time, Hernandez said.
Storey said his family modified the sanitary sewer lines within the property to meet city specifications before they sold the mobile home park in 1999.
He also said he does not want to pass the fee cost onto the tenants, who will stay in Alton for varying amounts of time during the next few years.
"I want to stay competitive," he said. "If they tell me I have to pay them, I will. And I will sue the city."
Storey is leasing the lots from Enchanted Village's owner, Affordable Residential Community.
The Alton City Council had to approve two ordinances last November, so city code could allow accommodation of the RVs and campers at Enchanted Village.
The first ordinance allowed campers and recreational vehicles to be parked in R-6 (manufactured) zoned districts. The second one allowed the city to issue a two-year, special-use permit allowing such vehicles to be parked at 1000 Stanley Road.
Tents and pop-ups are not allowed, the campers are to be owner-occupied and likely without children. The ordinances only apply to Enchanted Village.
At a plan commission meeting last Nov. 18, Storey told commissioners that ARC would do background checks on all applicants, he would take care of day-to-day management responsibilities and he (Storey) would pay utilities.
Storey also is required to submit a list every week containing a description of every vehicle parked on the site and its license plate. Phil Roggio, Alton director of development and housing, said Storey is more than a month behind on providing that information.