While on the road constructing metal buildings all over Texas, Dean Smith spent a lot of time in trailer parks.
Like many workers in transit, Smith found the cheapest living quarters near a job site were usually a recreational vehicle in a camper park.
Nine years ago, Smith went from traveler to innkeeper when he opened Texas Station RV Park and Storage on State Highway 36 south of Gatesville, the Killeen Daily Herald reported.
He started with six hook-ups and 20 RV storage spaces on five acres. They filled quickly and Smith started adding more.
“I built as it grew,” he said. “It filled up faster than I could expand.”
The site maxed out at 30 hook-ups and 96 storage units, he said, so he bought 15 acres down the road and put in another 31 hookups and 50 storage units plus an event center for meetings and reunions.
Texas Station is one of four camper parks around Gatesville and is by far the largest.
The key to success in an RV park, Smith said, is screening the clientele. He wants newer trailers and RVs — 2000 models and newer — but will make exceptions for well-kept vintage models such as a 1970s Airstream motor home now in his park.
Construction on North Fort Hood has caused a boom in business, Smith said. An oil pipeline set to start construction this fall will also bring customers.
“Most customers are people in transition,” he said. “Someone buying a house or going through a divorce and looking for a temporary place to stay.”
A few of his campers are retired and have taken up permanent residence in the park.
Some of the winter campers are “snow birds” from up north who drive south for milder temperatures.
“I usually have a couple of openings for overnight campers,” he said, but he considers the new location maxed out and is looking for more room to expand.
“I’m ready to add on again,” Smith said.
A planned vote for an 80-lot upscale RV resort and 29-lot single-family subdivision on Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Ala., was shelved for a second time Tuesday night (Sept. 17) as the city reviews a nearly 30-year-old agreement with the developer, the Mobile Press-Register reported.
On the table is a request by Mobile-based Beach Land LLC to build Park RV Resort at Romar Beach and the Park’s Edge subdivision next to The Village of Tannin. The council’s stance on the issue has been mixed leading up to the vote, which held over from the last meeting at the developer's request.
During a two-hour public hearing last month about a half-dozen Tannin residents as well as other neighbors voiced concerns over the pending development saying it does not fit with the existing community and that the city already has enough RV parks.
Those concerns were raised despite the developers’ plans to provide double buffering between Tannin and the RV resort and a total separation of that development, including a separate entrance, from the subdivision on Perdido Beach Boulevard, across from Phoenix West II. The developers have also received support from Tannin’s homeowners’ association.
Park’s Edge, a single-family development, would link up with Tannin’s existing roads and has no opposition as the residents have said they prefer single-family homes.
“The project continues to be tabled because the developers brought to our attention an agreement signed with a resolution by the council and mayor in 1986 to allow certain rights in the development of that piece of property in question,” Mayor Tony Kennon explained after the council voted to table the issue. “And that agreement is now being analyzed by our attorneys and will be discussed with us as to whether we have already fulfilled that obligation or we have not.”
Kennon said Beach Land’s request will come before the council at its next meeting in two weeks.
The third time was not a charm for Marty Judd. Sullivan County commissioners again denied Judd’s application for a zoning change on property he owns on Boone Lake in northeastern Tennessee.
For the past three years, Judd has applied for a change in zoning on the 25-acre parcel so that he can build campground off Devault Bridge Road, tricities.com, Bristol, Va., reported.
Sullivan County Director of Planning and Codes Ambre Torbett said planning staff opposes the application. The other properties near Judd’s land are either residential or agricultural, and Torbett said the campground does not fit with the area.
The Planning Commission had recommended adoption of the zoning request.
Judd said he believes the project is suitable with the community and a need exists for campgrounds in Sullivan County. He said Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop are building retail centers in the region, and those are both businesses that cater to campers.
“Do you want to support those big businesses by bringing in more campgrounds?” Judd asked.
During the hearing, Judd and Commissioner Dwight King, of Piney Flats, had a testy exchange. King said the application was “spot zoning” because no other campgrounds exist in the area. He said Judd has tried to bully his neighbors into supporting the campground by threatening to place a hog farm or mobile home park on the property.
“That was a threat to your neighbors,” King said. “I don’t take that lightly.”
Judd denied the accusation and said King was not talking about issues that pertained to the application.
“I haven’t made any threats,” Judd said.
Commissioner Cathy Armstrong, of Bristol, became upset with King’s line of questioning during the hearing.
“This is a personal attack, and it needs to stop,” Armstrong said.
Mayor Steve Godsey eventually gaveled the room back to order.
A large number of Judd’s neighbors spoke in opposition to the application.
Bill Burger owns a farm that is adjacent to Judd’s property. He said the campground would lower property values and keep high-priced home construction from taking place on the lake.
“You are invading on the neighbors,” Burger said.
Suzanne Holley said she is tired of Judd continuing to apply for a rezoning request. He does not care about the community and is only interested in making money.
“It’s almost borderline harassment to be here over and over again,” Holley said.
Only eight of the 24 commissioners voted in favor of the application. Many were concerned about the safety of access to Devault Bridge Road, and others were worried about potential problems with a septic system next to the lake.
The state of Michigan wants to buy the 58-acre Riverwoods on the Trail site along the Black River and Kal-Haven Trail in South Haven Township and turn it into a campground.
The Township Board voted Wednesday night (Sept. 11) to approve a letter of support for the state Department of Natural Resources' efforts to get the land. A bank owns the failed development property east of Blue Star Highway, the Herald-Palladium, Benton Harbor, reported
"The property would be an asset to the state park system due to the close proximity of the Kal-Haven Trail leading to nearby city of South Haven, the Black River and the potential for full hook-up camping opportunities," DNR Lands Specialist Paul Yauk wrote in a Sept. 6 letter to the township.
Township Supervisor Ross Stein said the Riverwoods developers had municipal water and sewer service brought to the site. No homes were ever built, however.
Yauk said the DNR envisions the campground to have full-service sites and primitive sites.
On Tuesday (Sept. 3), the city council in Biloxi, Miss., voted against rezoning property that would have been used to build an RV park. The council faced a lot of resistance from residents, who didn't want the park in their neighborhood, WLOX, Biloxi, reported.
This rezoning issue had been tabled for weeks. Many residents who weren't too happy with the idea of the RV park were at the meeting to voice their concerns.
It would have been located on AJ Holloway Drive, near Biloxi High School which is councilman Kenny Glavan's ward, but the council voted 4-3 against the rezoning.
"I like the project, but then I have to weigh the thoughts and the minds of the people who I represent. And in this case, I cannot support it at this time. It may not be the right time," said Glavan.
Johnny Gill is the property owner. He has wanted to build a RV park there for years. He said he is disappointed with the council's decision, but feels the fight is not over.
"We barely lost, but we do have a plan B, and the plan B will be coming up next. Just because you lose one that doesn't necessarily mean you lose the other one," said Gill.
Many neighbors were relieved with the council's vote, but one resident, Christine Davis, said she does not think they have heard the last of this proposal.
"I'm relieved, but like I said I'm still going to be on my guard and watch because I do fear that it will try to come back again, "said Davis.
At this time the property will not be rezoned to build the RV park, but the property's owner said he isn't finished fighting yet.
Click here to watch a brief WLOX newscast about the above story.
Editor's Note: The proposed RV park near Lewes, Del., has generated numerous Letters to the Editor of the local newspaper, The Cape Gazette. Here is one of the latest, published following the recent county meeting where the issued received an airing. This letter was submitted by Dan Ahearn of Lewes.
I attended the Aug. 22 Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, which made me lose even more faith in county government and the integrity of the bureaucratic process to do what’s best for the general public.
I’m referring to the 4-1 commission vote recommending approval of the overwhelmingly opposed Love Creek RV Park and Campground Resort.
The citizens of Sussex County deserve better than to be subjected to the random decision making of a group of appointed commissioners, whose recommendations will adversely impact the lives of many county residents for generations to come. The increased traffic of 600 additional RVs, will affect the health, safety and well-being of those who drive on the inadequate road infrastructure during the peak summer season.
While we were informed that this proceeding was “not a popularity contest,” it appears that the commissioners seemed convinced that they don’t have to be guided by concerns of the local residents, supposedly non-credentialed citizens who opposed this project. This is truly a disturbing thought.
Yes, we may not be experts or credentialed in a legal sense, but we are the ones who will have to bear the consequences of the decisions of out-of-area commissioners who represent us, but who themselves will not be affected by their actions.
Property Value Diminishment?
As an example, a commissioner cited that no data was provided supporting our contention that property values would diminish if this project was approved. Common sense would dictate that even a village idiot would be able to figure out that if the existing narrow roads were heavily traveled and backed up with over-sized vehicles, it would detract from the desirability of living in nearby homes and thus diminish their values.
Obviously, putting a commercial resort in the middle of surrounding residential developments would not enhance property values and will negatively impact their values.
Additionally, this project decision will one day create various other issues: impeding the evacuation process of people trying to escape storms in a timely fashion with many over-sized vehicles on the narrow roadways; possibly adding to flooding due to the reduction in drainage and creek shifting patterns; harming the ecological balance of both wildlife and plants; and eventually costing Sussex County taxpayers time and money due to providing increased emergency services, road provisioning and maintenance, increase overcapacity and the placement of public sewer pipes not yet connected (although cited as one of the reasons for approval of the project); and last, the potential loss of additional transfer tax revenues to Sussex County if the property were to be developed in an alternative fashion.
Many of those in attendance at the Aug. 22 meeting had to endure hearing the astonishing accolades from two commissioners about the applicant’s “generosity” in making never before seen “voluntary” revisions to the original plans. Their admiration for the developer sounded more like testimonial than legitimate reasons for recommending approval of the project!
Was it really necessary to cite more than 15 frivolous and bogus reasons why one commissioner thought the project would be beneficial to us, the nearby residents? Did these comments rationalize the guilt of making an unfavorable decision to those he supposedly represents?
Additionally, do the commissioners honestly believe that the handful of minimum-wage seasonal jobs to be created will shrink the unemployment ranks and benefit the coffers of Sussex County?
In retrospect, the commissioner seemed to do a more enthusiastic job of defending the project than the applicant’s team did at the earlier council hearing!
This commissioner's list of conditions was even more excessive than his reasons for approval. However, who is going to inspect and enforce those conditions and what will happen if the conditions are not met after the project is completed? As an example, it was stated no alcohol would be sold on the premises, but the fate of the proposed tiki bar was not mentioned nor denied. Can a tiki bar function if it cannot sell alcohol? Was it purposely omitted on the record so that it can be resurfaced at a later date?
Limiting the use of the amphitheater to operate between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. allows it to be used for up to 15 hours a day with possible music, movies and or services. Does that mean that nearby residents can look forward to hearing the reverberation of the sound system throughout Love Creek for most of the day? Will we need to bother the police to enforce noise pollution if it occurs?
Dates of Operation
We’re also confused about the conditional dates of operation which were somehow expanded from the previously proposed dates stated by the applicant at the Feb. 19 county council meeting. Somehow, the dates went from April 1 through Oct. 31, to March 15 through Nov. 15. Does the applicant even know that he should be opening earlier according to these conditions? Should the commission be thanked for the extended bonus period?
Unfortunately, this now adds another month of higher traffic volume to the nearby middle school as buses pass right by the RV resort to pick up and drop off students. The RV park would now be open simultaneously for at least five months with the Cape Henlopen school system. Unfortunately, it will only take one incident involving a RV and a school bus on the narrow shared roads to realize that this potential incident could have been prevented. Hopefully though, this will never happen.
One also wonders when DelDOT plans to complete the road improvements that it recommended in reviewing a traffic study conducted by the applicant. Does its budget allow for these improvements and weren’t some of these improvements already delayed? Will the park open prior to these improvements or should we expect the park to open first and then have massive traffic problems with oversized vehicles traversing the roads while they are under construction?
The commission stated that it expects 80% road improvement funding from the state’s allotment from the feds, but only 20% of a portion of the improvements to be paid by the applicant. Additionally, with the task force that is currently investigating improvements for pedestrian safety on Route 1, how will this be impacted by the increased RV traffic? And more important, how will this affect the RV traffic?
Another point is how is the RV project going to be compatible with the ongoing search for a new elementary school site which has been narrowed down to two possible locations out of four, which are located fewer than two miles from the RV park?
Also consider that a new RV site, capable of holding another 300 RVs, has just been approved six miles away from the proposed Love Creek site. This means that within the next few seasons, if the Love Creek RV Park is ultimately passed, we would have an influx of more than 900 additional RVs traveling on many of the same roads to get to this area. Can no one envision miles and hours of backups throughout the area? These long waits might even cause some tourists to reconsider coming to the area for weekends as they may spend frustrating hours stuck in traffic.
The smart thing to do would be to build the roads first and have them come instead of having them come first and then building the roads! Is there no planning ahead to evaluate what the cumulative impact to total traffic will be on the area or is it all done on a project-by-project basis?
Please realize that this is not an opposition to RVers, but instead an opposition to the location of the proposed site as well as to the existing road infrastructure. It will create chaos and inconvenience to nearby residents and others coming to the beach areas.
One needs only to drive by the narrow roads that will access the park and experience the frustration of the already existing traffic of Route 1, Plantation Road, Route 24, Robinsonville Road and the nearby connecting roads. Route 24 is already decorated with memorials to those who were killed in traffic accidents. Inserting larger vehicles on busy one-lane roads can only add to these tragedies. Therefore we again stress that this is not the appropriate location for up to 600 additional RVs and even more personal vehicles that will be associated with this project!
Finally, while some commissioners realize that they are immune from accountability to the public for their voting decisions since they are appointed for long terms, I offer that their accountability will come in the form of their legacies and reputations. If this park creates any of the economic, ecological, safety and adverse traffic conditions previously voiced in our letters and at the hearings, I propose that we constantly remind everyone of any public official’s roles in allowing and approving this preventable and ill-advised project.
Perhaps, we can erect a plaque or a sign forever acknowledging their involvement. Of course, if this project is the massive success that they believe it will be, then they’ll be perceived as those who knew what was best for their “non-credentialed citizens.”
However, if there are any future disasters or adverse consequences associated with this project if it was to pass, we’ll be sure to write to the papers and remind everyone again of any public official’s names and that of the developer, whose participation contributed to this misplaced albatross. They had been advised of the potential adverse conditions and harmful consequences, but will have chosen to ignore these ominous warnings. They must obviously believe in the merits of their judgment, so it shouldn’t bother them to be forever associated with their decisions.
It appears that greed, profit and possible business cronyism might be at the root of this project’s approval, but for whatever the reason, we have 1,200-plus signatures on a petition opposing this project and it is a shame that these voices are being ignored. We have little recourse to hold officials accountable and to see so few selfishly profit from this project at the expense of many.
The future character of Sussex County will be forever impacted by this decision, and it is a true travesty of the abuse of common sense. This type of project has already been denied in other parts of the county with fewer disadvantages than this proposed site, so one can only wonder how it could ever possibly be approved.
Finally, I do want to thank P&Z Commissioner Rodney Smith, who was independent enough to vote based on his convictions, and was not necessarily influenced by his connections. We all hope that the Sussex County Council will have that kind of courage and use common sense in making their final and binding decision!
The campground expansion, which has been debated for years and is currently being run by the Fort Saskatchewan Lions Club in Alberta, was approved by council at the Aug. 27 regular council meeting pending a few friendly amendments.
Before the council will give the OK to the project, it required that an environmental impact study be conducted on the area to determine the affect that the expansion would have on the site, the Fort Saskatchewan Record reported.
The amendment, which councillor Frank Garritsen put forward, also calls for the Lions Club to cover any extra expenses procured in the study and states that the expansion is subject to an agreement that is satisfactory to the city.
“If there are some trees or animals or anything that’s down there that is special, and if this campground would have an affect on these species, then there really needs to be some careful consideration,” Garritsen said, explaining the environmental study motion.
“If there is going to be a huge impact somewhere along the line, then it has to be rethought.”
Councillor Tom Hutchison, who put forward the motion to allow the Lions Club to expand the site, said before council that the expansion was necessary as the current grounds are always filled to capacity.
“I live in that area, it is my backyard,” he said.
“The campground is at capacity the majority of the time and we are in dire need of more spaces.”
During the delegations portion of the council meeting the floor was open to seek public input on the matter.
Six residents spoke against the campground expansion, while three spoke in favour.
However, the motion, with the friendly amendments in place, was passed unanimously, something that Lions Club president and city councillor Don Westman said was the right call.
“It was the right decision and I usually expect council to make the right decision,” Westman said of the result.
Westman also commented on the friendly amendments saying they were “not a problem.”
During deliberations on the matter it was brought before council that Westman should abstain his vote due to a conflict of interests being the president of the Lions Club. This decision was however dashed as legal advice determined Westman would see no financial gain from the matter and was therefore under no legal obligation to abstain.
If the campground expansion does go ahead it will see the amount of lots increase from 25 to roughly 95.
From The Missoulian, Missoula:
Glacier National Park has announced upcoming closing dates for everything from campgrounds and hotels, to boat tours and horseback rides.
One of the key ending dates is Monday (Sept. 2). Labor Day will be the final day the park offers its free shuttle service over Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The campgrounds close at noon of the date listed (note that a few campgrounds switch to primitive camping for part of the fall, which means pit toilets, no potable or drinking water available and a reduced number of camping sites. Camping fees are also reduced to $10 per night).
Also, ranger-led hikes and evening programs continue through September, and Red Bus Tours close on the same date that the hotels they operate out of close.
Click here for the entire story.
From the Billings Gazette:
Closures around the Horsetail fire in the Hyalite Recreation Area near Bozeman, and the Sheep fire in Tom Miner Basin near Gardiner, will be shrinking at noon today (Aug. 29).
In Hyalite the public will be allowed back into the West Fork of Hyalite Creek all the way to Hyalite Peak. That means Chisholm and Hood Creek campgrounds, Maxey and Window Rock cabins, as well as the Crescent Lake Trail and Palace Butte Trailhead that leads to Hyalite Peak and Grotto Falls will be open.
The East Fork of Hyalite Creek will remain closed, including the Palisade Falls Trailhead and Picnic area, Emerald and Heather Lakes Trailhead and Flanders Creek drainage.
The Tom Miner Basin Road leading up to and including the Tom Miner Campground will be opened. Also reopening are trail No. 120 from Tom Miner Campground leading to Buffalo Horn Pass, as well as Sunlight Creek Trail No. 291. The Divide Creek Road No. 3250 will also be opened. An area around the Sheep fire from Sheep Creek to the west and Grizzly Creek to the east and the forest boundary to the north and Yellowstone National Park boundary to the south will remain closed. This includes Horse Creek Trail No. 297 that leads to Shooting Star Lake.
The Gallatin National Forest would like to remind the public that Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are still in effect across the entire forest, meaning campfires and charcoal fires are only allowed at Forest Service selected recreation sites.
From National Parks Traveler:
The arrival of the emerald ash borer into Shenandoah National Park heightens the concern over what this invasive insect might do to the park's forests, and reinforces why the park asks that you not bring firewood into the park.
The emerald ash borer is a half-inch-long metallic green beetle that lays its eggs on the bark of ash trees. After hatching, larvae burrow under the bark, creating feeding tunnels that cut off nutrients and water flow to the tree. Trees typically die within three to five years of being infected.
Click here to read the entire story.
East Lampeter Township supervisors have given Country Acres Campground the approval to expand its camping facility near Gordonville.
The campground received final approval at the supervisors meeting Aug. 20 to remove five existing campsites and develop 19 new ones for a total of 100 camping sites. The plan is to join two lots together for an 18.4-acre lot for the additional campsites.
The campground also plans to build a new pavilion and bathhouse on the property and to widen the access road into the campground.
The final land development plan was approved, provided the campground meets the conditions imposed by the engineering firm of Rettew Associates.
One of the conditions include the campground having a speed limit study done for the entire length of Leven Road as well as a study of a no-parking option for both sides of Leven Road from Lincoln Highway East to the campground entrance.
Another condition is that the campground needs to provide a clear site triangle easement agreement for the portions of the clear site triangle at the intersection of Leven Road and Lincoln Highway East.
The campground, which is owned by Bird-in-Hand Corp., is served by on-lot water and public sewer and is located within the Gordonville Village Growth Area. It is open from March to November.
The fate of the controversial Love Creek RV campground/resort in Delaware now rests in the hands of Sussex County Council.
Sussex County’s Planning and Zoning Commission last Thursday (Aug. 22) sided with developers, recommending by a 4-1 margin approval of conditional use and zoning changes sought by Jack Lingo Asset Management LLC for the proposed resort/campground near Lewes that has met vehement opposition, the Sussex County Post reported.
The county council will have the final verdict. The council is off on late summer break until Sept. 10.
“We just think that the commissioners’ logic supports the large developer, the large landowners and the arguments that we put forward were compelling, and we just hope the council considers that,” said Bill Baydalla, vice president of the Homeowners Association at The Retreat at Love Creek in Lewes and one of the leaders in the Stop RV City Coalition. “We lost a battle. We did not lose the war.”
Following an opposition rally of about 100 concerned residents from residential communities located near the proposed RV resort, Planning and Zoning members Michael Johnson, Martin Ross, Irwin Burton III and chairman Bob Wheatley voted to recommend that the county council approve the conditional use and zoning change applications from Jack Lingo Asset Management LLC, which last December unveiled plans for the 162-acre development that could attract several thousand seasonal visitors to 628 lots designed for RVs, rental cabins and tents.
Commission member Rodney Smith voted against the request, reasoning that the location was not appropriate for the project.
Click here to read the entire story.
From the News-Herald, Lake Havasu City:
Arizona State Parks (ASP) officials unveiled conceptual drawings Wednesday night (Aug. 21) to Lake Havasu Marine Association of what is to come at Contact Point.
“We are wanting to manage this Lake a little better, there’s a lot of congestion,” said ASP executive director Bryan Martyn. “We want to move some of that traffic down south.”
The proposed project is earmarked for 40-acres of ASP land that is nestled next to the existing Water Safety Center.
Artist-renderings of the proposed project show a new marina, boat storage lots and parking.
Wednesday, Martyn said the proposed project boasts two boat launch ramp sites with a combined 12 lanes. Other amenities include, bathrooms, trails, fishing nodes and camping.
“It will be what you would expect at an Arizona state park,” Martyn said.
Calling Lake Havasu State Park an “economic driver for this community,” Martyn said the three goals of ASP are continuing to be a resource protection agency; providing public access to the agency’s resources; and continuing on as an economic driver.
Martyn noted the ASP state parks system to round up an estimated $266 million to rural Arizona.
“You will continue to see good things at Arizona State Parks,” he said.
From the Myrtle Beach Sun News:
Time for some bluegrass at the beach in South Carolina.
The two-day weekend event at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach is scheduled to begin today (Aug. 23).
The 15th annual event features eight different bands. Included on the schedule for this year are Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and the Larry Stephenson Band.
Performances run from 4 p.m. through 10 p.m. on Friday and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Ocean Lakes is one of the largest campgrounds in the nation with a mile of beachfront and almost 3,500 camping sites.