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Duane Spader Fights Sioux Falls’ Camping Limits

July 7, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Sioux Falls, S.D. officials want to limit how long RVs can park in campgrounds, but one local campground owner is doing his best to stop the proposal. 

Planning and zoning officials say motorhomes and travel trailers should be forced to move after 180 days. They say RVs are not suitable as permanent dwellings because of health and safety concerns, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader

“I don’t think campers are designed to provide occupancy when it’s January and 30 below in Sioux Falls,” said Shawna Goldammer, the city’s zoning enforcement manager. 

But Duane Spader, who owns the Sioux Falls KOA, views the proposal as an assault on campground owners. Spader, a prominent businessman in the national RV industry, calls the proposal “naive.” 

Between 20% and 30% people who own RVs now use the vehicles as full-time dwellings, he said. They often travel to one place and stay for an extended period of time before moving on to a different part of the country. 

“Why can’t an RV park in my campground for a year if they want to?” he asked. 

Spader has a tumultuous relationship with the city’s planning and zoning officials. He accuses city officials of reneging on past deals and of using zoning rules to destroy small businesses. 

“It’s a culture of arrogance,” he said. “They have the righteous perception that they are the only ones who know what’s best.” 

Goldammer counters that Spader is “anti-zoning.” 

“This is not about the KOA campground or Duane Spader in any way, shape or form,” she said. 

“They choose to live in their RVs,” Goldammer added. “More power to them. What we’re trying to get after is that they don’t put a stake in the ground in a campground.” 

City officials have been working on the proposal for months. City ordinances define motorhomes and travel trailers as “temporary dwellings.” City officials want to define the term “temporary” with a hard number. 

“There’s nothing magic about 180 days,” Goldammer said. “We just need to nail down what ‘temporary’ means.” 

But city councilors, who must approve the changes, want to study the issue closely before voting. They have postponed a hearing until it can be reviewed by the council’s Land Use Committee. That review isn’t scheduled until later this month. 

Councilor Greg Jamison said the issue started last year, when the city found problems at a campground that isn’t owned by Spader. Jamison questions whether city officials are looking out for health and safety concerns, or if they’re simply targeting campgrounds that aren’t aesthetically pleasing. 

Spader, Jamison said, “runs a good program over there.” 

Councilor Kermit Staggers also has questions about the city’s motivations. He wants to postpone the July hearing because Spader is scheduled to be out of town on business. 

“We need him there,” Staggers said. “This is one of the primary opponents.” 

If the hearing is delayed another month, a vote on the issue probably won’t happen until September.

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