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Wyoming County Says Resort Owner Not ‘Aggrieved’

June 1, 2012 by · Comments Off on Wyoming County Says Resort Owner Not ‘Aggrieved’ 

The legal staff of Wyoming’s Teton County is arguing a Buffalo Valley campground owner can’t challenge a planning decision that blocked him from bringing recreational park trailers onto his property without obtaining special permission.

In a response to Buffalo Valley RV Resort’s request, Deputy County Attorney Nicole Krieger said new rules regarding the park model trailers require property owners to go through a special approval process, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported. County officials have said that even if resort owner Harry Washut prevails in his challenge, he still will have to abide by the new regulations.

“Contestant’s appeal is moot,” Krieger said in the filing. The issue is being handled administratively through the county appeals process.

Recreational park trailers are hard-sided units that sit on a chassis. They are hauled to campgrounds where they are connected to electric and sewer services.

Critics have likened them more to hotel rooms than recreational vehicles.

Washut is appealing a decision by Planning Director Jeff Daugherty. Washut asked Daugherty to determine that recreational park trailers and recreational vehicles are similar.

If that request had been granted, Washut would have been allowed to bring the new units onto his campground without any special permission from the county.

Daugherty, however, flatly turned him down. Attorneys representing Washut filed the appeal in April.

In her response, Krieger said that Washut doesn’t have the right to continue with his appeal. She said Washut isn’t considered an “aggrieved” person under the county’s land-use rules, a requirement to appeal a decision of the planning director.

The county’s land-use rules say that an aggrieved party is someone who has filed an application or requested an interpretation of regulations. The rules also define an aggrieved person as someone who is adversely affected by an action on his or her planning application.

Washut is one of three campground owners who have petitioned county officials to bring recreational park trailers to their properties. He is the only one who hasn’t been allowed.

Jackson Hole Campground won the ability through a settlement agreement. County officials approved an application from the Snake River KOA in 2010 that allowed recreational park trailers to be brought to that site.

Washut has been trying to bring the units to his campground for two years. After numerous delays and stiff opposition from a neighbor, county commissioners seemed poised to approve a small number of trailers for Washut.

But the campground owner withdrew his application a day before commissioners were slated to vote on it. Before pulling his request, Washut asked Daugherty to make the determination the trailers are similar to other recreational vehicles and therefore wouldn’t require any additional approval.

Daugherty turned down that request in March.

County officials agreed to hire a Lander attorney to oversee a hearing. Once the hearing is complete, the officer will make a recommendation to county commissioners.

The two sides are scheduled to go before the hearing officer Aug. 14.

 

County: Park Owner’s Appeal ‘An Exercise in Fantasy’

May 21, 2012 by · Comments Off on County: Park Owner’s Appeal ‘An Exercise in Fantasy’ 

Teton County commissioners in western Wyoming will pay an attorney $150 per hour to oversee a Buffalo Valley property owner’s appeal of a land-use ruling.

Commissioners agreed to hire attorney Mike Barton to handle an appeal hearing for Buffalo Valley RV Resort owner Harry Washut, who contends he should be allowed to bring recreational park trailers onto his property without special approval from county planners, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

County Commissioners Hank Phibbs and Paul Perry said the appeal was a waste of money. Phibbs called it “an exercise in fantasy.”

Even if Washut prevails, commissioners said they are not sure he would be allowed to bring recreational park trailers to his property.

Washut is challenging a decision made in March by Planning Director Jeff Daugherty that recreational park trailers are unlike other recreational vehicles in that they are semi-permanent. Recreational park trailers or park models are hard-sided units that sit on a chassis. They are hauled to campgrounds, where they are connected to electric and sewer services.

Washut requested in February that Daugherty approve the recreational park trailers, which would have allowed the campground owner to wheel new units onto his property without additional county approvals.

Commissioners questioned Washut’s appeal because a new set of rules has been put in place that regulate the use of recreational park trailers at campgrounds. Washut asked Daugherty to review the use of recreational park trailers under an old set of rules, which commissioners said would no longer apply to his project.

Attorney Melissa Owens, who is representing Washut, argued that the units are similar to other recreational vehicles and that Washut should be allowed to bring the recreational trailers to his property, regardless of changes to the county’s land-use rules.

“Had [recreational park trailer] use on this property been deemed a similar use, Mr. Washut could have wheeled in the [recreational] park trailers,” Owens said Tuesday. “The text amendment passing after that wouldn’t apply to Buffalo Valley at that point. So appealing the similar use determination would have precluded the new amendment.”

Owens and attorney David DeFazio filed an appeal in April.

Deputy County Attorney Nicole Krieger said commissioners could decide there shouldn’t be a hearing, but that they should hear the appeal. Commission chairman Ben Ellis agreed.

“What you can do with that appeal is unclear, but the right to appeal is there,” Ellis said.

Commissioners agreed to stop planning staff from forcing Washut to remove three recreational park trailers he already has at his campground.

Planning staff said the units were illegally brought to the campground. They held off taking action while Washut had a pending application. When he withdrew it, county staff sent a letter to Washut that threatened legal action if he did not remove the units.

In return, Washut’s attorney promised that he wouldn’t bring any more trailers to the property while the appeal was pending.

Washut has been trying to bring recreational park trailers to his property for two years. He went through several reviews and meetings with county staff and elected officials but was unable to secure approval of his request, through which he initially asked to bring more than a hundred recreational park trailers to his property. Washut faced a stiff challenge from a neighboring ranch owner, who hired a former state attorney general to oppose Washut.

Commissioners were nearing a decision on the project in April, but Washut withdrew his application, saying that he did not believe he needed special permission from the county to bring the units to his land. Washut is the only campground owner still fighting with the county about the trailers.

 

Wyoming Resort Owner Appeals Park Trailer Decision

April 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on Wyoming Resort Owner Appeals Park Trailer Decision 

After spending nearly two years trying to work with Teton County staff in northwest Wyoming to bring recreational park trailers (RPT) onto his property, Buffalo Valley RV Resort Owner Harry Washut is taking a different approach.

On Thursday (April 26), attorneys representing Washut filed an appeal — hundreds of pages delivered in a box to the county clerk’s office — challenging the county’s ability to prevent him from bringing the trailers, also known as park models, onto his campground, the Jackson Hole Daily reported.

Representing Washut, attorneys David DeFazio and Melissa Owens said the trailers are similar to other recreational vehicles and therefore should be allowed on campgrounds without any special approval from county staff.

The two attorneys cited dozens of examples of planning staff saying recreational park trailers are similar to recreational vehicles, which are allowed at campgrounds. They also called out instances in which planning staff said recreational park trailers should not be regulated as structures and do not constitute a change in the way a campground is being operated.

Teton County Planning Director Jeff Daugherty is “arbitrarily and unreasonably attempting to interfere with Buffalo Valley’s property rights for reasons that are not clear,” DeFazio and Owens stated in the legal filing.

The two attorneys said planning staff are trying to institute regulations that are unnecessary and that will deny Washut’s basic rights as a property owner.

“The planning director is now attempting to prevent Buffalo Valley from using its own land, a campground, to let campers camp,” DeFazio and Owens said in the filings.

The appeal seeks to overturn a decision issued last month by Daugherty.

In February, Washut applied for a similar-use determination, roughly two months after county commissioners tentatively gave him approval to bring 27 recreational park trailers onto his campground. If it would have been approved, the similar-use request would have allowed Washut to use the trailers at his property without any special permission from county officials.

Daugherty, however, denied the request, saying recreational park trailers carry with them additional impacts that are not addressed by a similar use determination.

“A RPT is located on the property long-term and owned by the campground owners, unlike an RV, trailer, camper or tent brought to a campground by a guest,” Daugherty said in his March 28 response to Washut’s request.

“In addition, [recreational park trailers] use may create significant impacts on the land that RV use does not, including visual impacts, environmental impacts and septic impacts.

“Staff cannot determine that [recreational park trailer] use will not lower the protection afforded to the community without a full review of the site, permitted uses and possible impacts,” Daugherty said in his response to Washut’s request. “This has been staff’s position for the past three years.”

County staff already have allowed the trailers to be placed on two other campsites. Officials approved a special request from the Snake River KOA. Additionally, they signed a settlement agreement with the Jackson Hole Campground after its owner, Jamie Mackay, brought the units to the property illegally.

County officials recently approved a new set of rules to govern the use of the trailers. The rules will only apply to new applications to bring the trailers to campgrounds.

Washut’s application was the last one that would have been allowed under the previous approval system used for the trailers.

Jackson Hole Park Model Issue Gets Review Today

January 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on Jackson Hole Park Model Issue Gets Review Today 

One of the upscale park models now on site at the Jackson Hole Campground in Wyoming.

Teton County, Wyo., commissioners are slated to review rules today (Jan. 3) that would allow campground owners to bring recreational park trailers onto their land indefinitely.

The Jackson Hole Daily reported that since park models began showing up in the valley in 2010, the trailers have sparked debate about whether they should be considered permanent structures or mobile campground improvements.

Although the rules review by the commissioners comes after most campground owners in the valley already have been allowed to put the structures on their properties, the regulations could have an effect on new applications or attempts to bring more of the trailers onto existing campgrounds.

County officials are scheduled to take up the issue during a meeting that begins at 9 a.m. today at commissioners’ chambers.

The county’s current land-use rules do not address the trailers, an omission that has made it difficult for planners to regulate the structures as campground owners try to improve what they offer customers.

The hard-sided trailers are manufactured outside the county, then delivered to campgrounds, where they are attached to electrical and sewer hook-ups. Some offer full kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms with the comforts of home.

Since last year, county staff and elected officials have reviewed requests to bring the trailers onto campgrounds on a case-by-case basis.

County commissioners approved a request to bring 27 trailers onto the Snake River KOA and signed a settlement agreement that allowed Jackson Hole Campground to have 26 trailers. An application from the Buffalo Valley RV Resort still is pending.

According to Jackson Hole Daily, the new rules that county commissioners will review would create a special permitting process for the trailers.

Proposed New Regs

Under the proposed rules, campground owners could use no more than 40% of their total number of campsites for park models. In addition, the total number of campsites, which includes RVs and tent sites, would be capped at 17 per acre.

Guests staying in recreational park trailers would not be able to spend more than 30 days in the trailer for any 90-day period.

In an attempt to stave off fractional ownership or time-share arrangements for the trailers, planning commissioners asked that some kind of stipulation be attached that requires all recreation-al trailers at a campground to be owned by a single entity.

The new rules also would require campground owners to submit annual monitoring reports about how the trailers are being used.

Planning commissioners recommended county commissioners approve the new regulations. Though only one member of the group voted against the rules, planning commissioners raised a host of questions about the units.

Several county commissioners have suggested the trailers should be regulated as structures, a designation that would force them to comply with additional safety and building rules.

A handful of valley residents also have questioned whether the trailers allow campground owners to offer lodging without having to deal with the same rules that apply to hotels.

Jackson Hole RV Parks Win Planners’ OK for Park Models

October 15, 2011 by · Comments Off on Jackson Hole RV Parks Win Planners’ OK for Park Models 

Wyoming’s Teton County planning staff released the first draft of a set of rules Thursday (Oct. 13) that would allow campground owners to bring recreational park trailers onto their properties, albeit with special permission from the county.

The rules would allow campground owners to fill up to half of their total campsites with the trailers, though the number allowed to campground owners would be set on a case-by-case basis, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

The proposed rules are of keen interest to neighbors to and owners of RV parks as recreational park trailers become more popular and have been brought to Teton County. While they are trailed to the campgrounds behind trucks, once parked they are rarely moved, making some neighbors ask whether the campgrounds are becoming de facto hotels.

Campground owners say demand for the units represents a new form of travel and recreation. Use of the units saves the gas that would otherwise be required by people who want to stay in campground trailers.

Campground owners would not be allowed to use permanent foundations for the trailers and would have to ensure that they could be removed if the need arose. In addition, only the county building official could approve a request to remove the wheels from the trailers.

The proposed rules would require campground owners to submit annual monitoring reports about the trailers to the county. The reports would track the rental history of the units, including the arrival and departure dates of guests, and the number of vehicles present during each campground stay.

County staff would have the ability to suspend or revoke the permit of any campground owner found to be in violation of the new rules.

The proposed rules define recreational park trailers as “a trailer type that is primarily designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use.”

Coupled with that definition is a set of criteria that outlines specific features of the trailers. The trailers must be built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels with a gross trailer that is no more than 400 square feet and certified by a manufacturer as being in compliance with national standards related to the trailers.

Under the proposed rules, the trailers only could be rented on a short-term basis — no more than 30 days in any 60-day period — and would have to be owned by a single entity.

The proposed rules come several days after county planning commissioners recommended approval of a request from Buffalo Valley RV Resort’s Harry Washut to put 102 recreational park trailers on his property. That request still has to be reviewed by county commissioners.

County commissioners approved a request from Snake River KOA owner Bud Chatham to bring the trailers onto his property and signed an agreement with Jamie Mackay, who owns Jackson Hole Campground, that allowed him to keep trailers he brought to his property.

Planning commissioners are scheduled to review the proposed rules during a meeting Nov. 14, after which they will be taken up by county commissioners.

The board of county commissioners tentatively is scheduled to discuss the proposed rules in January.

The rules are available at www.tetonwyo.org or at the county planning department.

Upscale Park Models Coming to Jackson Hole

May 27, 2011 by · Comments Off on Upscale Park Models Coming to Jackson Hole 

Upscale park models ready for occupancy in Jackson Hole Campground in Wyoming.

A new era in recreational park trailer (RPT) camping is coming to Teton County, Wyo., home to picturesque Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole Campground.

Campground owners Jamie Mackay and Tom Hedges are planning to bring 71 upscale park model trailers to their campground, starting June 15.

Mackay and Hedges have formed a manufacturing firm, Wheelhaus Inc., to build the trailers in nearby Alpine, Wyo., and transport them to their park, located in Wilson.

In an interview with Woodall’s Campground Management, Hedges, who is the partnership’s director of business development, explained that these upscale trailers are targeted for a new generation of campers who prefer “glamping” or glamorous camping to traditional camping in tents or even standard RVs.

The recreational park trailers would sit on sites currently designated for RVs. The trailers would either be parked permanently or for months at a time. Stays would be limited to 30 days.

“The idea is, a lot of companies are building RPTs, but no one is building high-end luxury,” he said. “This will be nature camping at its finest.”

The Details

They call their design “The Wedge.” The roofline starts low over the bedroom and builds to 15 feet in front with big glass windows, allowing guests to look right out at the Tetons. Some of the siding is made of reclaimed snow fences.

“We’ve got a full kitchen with custom countertops and cabinetry, hardwood floors, high-end Regency gas burning fireplaces with custom butcher block mantels and 41-inch HD TVs. The bedrooms host king-size beds and ‘his and her’ closets and the bathrooms feature antique granite flooring. Each unit will include a 10-foot deck in front and private campfire patio off the deck.”

Interior of a park trailer at Jackson Hole Campground

“It’s our opinion campgrounds are going through an evolution; a lot of the traditional business models aren’t working quite as well,” he said, explaining the need to look outside the box.

Nightly rentals will start out at around $350, heading toward $550 by 2013, Hedges said.

The partners plan to begin major production of the high-end park models and make them available to other campgrounds nationwide. The units will sell for approximately $100,000, he estimated. Production could be moved to a new site to accommodate transportation of the finished units by rail, he added.

In the meantime, they have options to purchase four other unnamed campgrounds in the West. They plan to follow a similar business model at any additional parks they acquire.

The partners also plan to install high-end tents in what they call “The Garrison” at their campground for the 2012 season.

The owners expect 100% occupancy of their new park trailers from June through mid-September and 50% for the rest of the year. They’ll be open during the winter ski season.

‘Green Camping’ Initiative

Just before a hearing in May, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported, Mackay said the trailers are part of his new “Green Camping” initiative, a major component of the campground’s efforts to improve and evolve.

For example, use of the trailers would reduce fuel consumption by 687,635 gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 8,245 tons per year, according to a study of 506 random RV guests during summer 2010.

Additionally, Mackay said he aims to use 100% purchased wind power, and he plans to reclaim unnecessarily disturbed areas on the property by seeding or sodding with native grasses and to plant 100 new trees on the site.

“The trees will be placed mostly along the border of the property in a continued effort to shelter and privatize the property from adjacent properties and homes,” a release stated. “This will benefit both neighbors and guests alike.”

Related Projects in Jackson Hole

The Jackson Hole Campground is one of at least three parks in Teton County that propose to add park models. More than 100 park models in all are proposed for the Buffalo Valley RV Resort and as many as 17 have already been approved for the Snake River Canyon KOA. Click here to read a comprehensive study of the Buffalo Valley RV Resort’s plan, which has received a positive recommendation from the county plan staff.

Hedges and Mackay have yet to receive the county’s official blessing to move forward with their ambitious project, estimated to cost some $7 million. Neither do they have the OK to remain open year-round. But Hedges says he and his partner are undeterred.

“We feel this property may very well be the most attractive, high-end campground in the entire country,” Hedges said. “Our opinion is, this is a use by right. RPTs are in use all over the country. When the county asked us to go through a conditional use application, we said we would do it but consider it a use by right.

He continued, “It’s a very simple argument. Teton County tried to overcomplicate things. An RPT is defined as a recreational vehicle. They’re allowed in RV parks. We don’t see why we should be regulated.”

Hedges noted that the campground has operated on a year-round basis since at least the 1960s. “We have a zoning certification verification from the county approving that.”

Teton County States Its Case

Teton County takes stand on park models

The Teton County Plan Commission has OK’d plans for one of the campgrounds, Bud Chattham’s request for Snake River Canyon. Chattham got approval in mid-May for up to 17 park models, with restrictions. The units must be set back from the river and they must be for seasonal use only, according to Jeff Daugherty, county planning and development director.

The commission tabled a request from Buffalo Valley RV Resort owner Harry Washut and has yet to hear an appeal from a resident on Jackson Hole Campground before rendering its decision.

Washut proposes to put more than 100 park models in his 200-plus site park, located near the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Before acting on the Jackson Hole Campground’s plan, however, the county must first hear the appeal. A resident, Gail Jansen, appealed an earlier decision by Daugherty. Because of that appeal, it stays further action until it is resolved. That issue must be resolved within 30 days.

So, what’s the holdup?

County Says Park Models Have Greater Land Use Impact Than Traditional RVs

“We’re struggling what to call these things and from a land use how to classify them,” Daughterty said. “We’re calling them RVs, but they have a greater land use impact than a motorhome.”

“What we want to do is avoid creating de facto lodging. We have a lodging overlay zone here,” Daugherty said.

“Our commissioners are interested in testing the water, seeing how it works and then maybe welcoming requests later on,” he said.

Chattham agreed to seasonal restrictions for his new park models. But Mackey “is not enthusiastic about a seasonal restriction,” Daugherty said, acknowledging that it would stifle his cash flow during the shoulder seasons and off-season.

Daugherty said the county will not sit idly by if Mackay and Hedges flaunt the law. He told WCM he learned that the owners were bringing in the first shipments of park models before Memorial Day and beginning to set them up. He said he was sorry to learn that Mackay and Hedges were going forward without county OK.

“Initially the first volley rests with me,” Daugherty said about the next step. “I would bring an abatement action against him, saying he has been deemed in violation of land development regulations and he has a certain number of days to correct them. If he fails (to correct them), we go to district court where we can seek fines up to $750 per day per violation.”

Daugherty said Mackay is well aware of his options. Hedges agreed, adding that he and his partner are more than willing to work with the county to find a compromise so as to expedite their request.

Daugherty went on to say that the county has been diligent and is on schedule with all of its deadlines concerning the case. “I think he was waiting on Bud Chattham’s case to see what would happen,” Daugherty said.

Panoramic view of the Grand Tetons from Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole Resort Wants to Add 71 Park Models

May 17, 2011 by · Comments Off on Jackson Hole Resort Wants to Add 71 Park Models 

Jackson Hole Campground

Heading into a hearing scheduled today (May 17) about using parked trailers instead of hosting RVs at his Jackson Hole Campground, Jamie Mackay said the venture will use “green” elements such as wind power and will reduce fuel consumption by more than 680,000 gallons annually at his Wyoming resort.

Mackay announced the changes in a news release this week, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.

The Teton County Board of Commissioners is expected to review Mackay’s proposal during a meeting today in chambers at 200 S. Willow St.

“The (green) initiatives will work to produce a more sustainable lodging/camping option at the Jackson Hole Campground,” the release states. “Owners look forward to joining the ranks of other sustainable businesses in Teton County.”

Mackay seeks to place up to 71 cabin-like rental trailers on his west bank campground. The recreational park trailers would sit on sites currently designated for RVs. The trailers would either be parked permanently or for months at a time. Stays would be would be limited to 30 days.

Though they look like cabins, federal standards dictate that the trailers be built on a single chassis, measure 400 square feet or less and be able to be towed by a light-duty truck.

Just days before the hearing, Mackay said the trailers are part of his new “Green Camping” initiative, a major component of the campground’s efforts to improve and evolve.

For example, use of the trailers would reduce fuel consumption by 687,635 gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 8,245 tons per year, according to a study of 506 random RV guests during summer 2010.

Additionally, Mackay said he aims to use 100% purchased wind power, and he plans to reclaim unnecessarily disturbed areas on the property by seeding or sodding with native grasses and to plant 100 new trees on the site.

“The trees will be placed mostly along the border of the property in a continued effort to shelter and privatize the property from adjacent properties and homes,” the release states. “This will benefit both neighbors and guests alike.”

If commissioners approve the trailers, Mackay hopes to use Gold Level TRA Green Certified Recreational Park Trailers, the release states.

Other parts of the initiative include membership in 1% for the Tetons, which collects money from member businesses and distributes the funds as grants to groups working on regional sustainability issues, and the U.S. Green Building Counsel, the release states.

There is a chance Mackay’s hearing will not be held today.

Husband and wife Dave Coon and Gail Jensen filed with Teton County an appeal of the county planning department’s “zoning compliance verifications” for the Jackson Hole Campground and Buffalo Valley RV Resort, which also proposed to use the park trailers.

Commissioners will decide today whether the couple has standing and the appeal can proceed.

Coon and Jensen want the campgrounds to pursue text amendments for their applications.

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