County Addresses Rapid RV Park Development
The county commissioners in Richland County, Mont., provided the following position statement on the RV parks that are cropping up all over their county. The statement was published in the Sidney Herald Leader:
We are in the process of trying to make the owners comply with all of the subdivision regulations which include the requirements of the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) as well as road, school and any other requirements.
Many of these RV parks have sprung up all around the county to address the urgent need to provide living arrangements for the work force needed to service the demand for the ever increasing oil production in this region as well as all of the other job opportunities that have been made available in this region as a result of the energy production.
The fastest way to provide housing is through RV parks. We know many of these parks have not gone through the proper channels to be approved, but we are working diligently to guide the owners through the process to become licensed. This is a slow and time-consuming process, but we are trying our best to address both the housing shortage and the issue of the subdivision review.
The sanitarian, Kelly Logan, and the planner, Marcy Hamburg, have a booklet available for anyone interested in starting an RV park, trailer court or permanent housing subdivision. Contact either office to obtain this information.
We have been working with the county sanitarian to address sewer and water quality through the DEQ and are in the process of obtaining help from the state of Montana to help with enforcement of the regulations and rules set by the Legislature and the department. The state is in the process of making a plan of action and sending someone to Richland County to help our efforts.
We are working with the Solid Waste Board to make sure that all RVs and trailers moving into the area are paying into the solid waste program, which is fair to all residents of Richland County.
We are also investigating our options as to the changes in land use from agriculture to commercial or residential. These are issues our school districts need answers to, to ensure that any children living in these areas will be served.
We are also involved with the Richland County/Sidney/Fairview Planning Districts to address the housing shortage through several housing subdivisions. We have been watching the explosion of subdivisions in North Dakota and listening to the problems being created there, while they are trying to solve their housing shortage. We are trying to keep the growth organized and orderly while at the same time trying to address the problem.
We know some of these RV parks are already in place and filling up but are just coming up for public hearings. We know this is putting the cart before the horse, but how else can a place be provided to live for many of the people working in this region? Again, we are trying to get all subdivisions in compliance while educating landowners who say, “It’s my land; I’ll do whatever I want with it.” As residents of this state, we have laws and rules that have to be followed to help protect adjoining landowners as well as all of the residents of Richland County.
We are working to get as many RV parks in compliance as possible and ask for patience and understanding from the general public while trying to address the concerns of the adjacent landowners. The public hearings for these subdivisions will be the place to raise issues and voice opinions.
The planning board’s position in all of this is to review every application to make sure it meets all of the rules and requirements set in statute by the Montana Legislature and adopted by Richland County, the city of Sidney and the town of Fairview. The planning board DOES NOT set the requirements but only ensure they are being met. After public hearings and review, their recommendation is then given to the appropriate governing body, county or city, for a final decision. We would like to commend the members of the planning board for their commitment, service and patience in trying to perform their duty. We also ask for the patience of the residents of Richland County while we work our way through this process.
If there are any unanswered questions please call any of the commissioners, mayors, city council members, planning staff or sanitarian. If you have any recommendations or solutions please call any or all of the people listed above.