Planner: Impromptu RV Village ‘Tacky’

March 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on Planner: Impromptu RV Village ‘Tacky’ 

The purple pin on this Google map shows the location of Wellington, a popular equestrian community in South Florida.

A practice that’s not legal in Wellington, Fla., but has taken place regularly for years is destined to find some space in the town’s rule book.

Since at least 2011, the village has been trying to firm up rules allowing recreational vehicles in Wellington’s equestrian area, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Current codes don’t let people live in RVs on individual lots, but they are spread throughout the Equestrian Preserve, mainly to serve as living quarters for grooms.

Village staff found about 80 when it conducted a survey in January, said Mike O’Dell, Wellington’s Equestrian Master Plan project director.

The village council on April 9 is expected to vote on rules that would allow for one RV on 2.5 to 4.9 acres, two on 5 to 9.9 acres, and three on lots 10 acres and larger.

Not everyone is keen on the RVs.

“It becomes tacky,” said Marcia Radosevich, who sits on the village’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board. “It creates a temporary, a transient community, which is only negative. I don’t think we should allow people to do things on the cheap.”

Still, having some rules would help, she said.

Plus, the proposal appears to be fairly stringent, said Mike Drahos, who also sits on the board, which made recommendations on the rules last month.

Under the proposal, a special permit would be required to have an RV in the preserve, Wellington’s more southern section, an area with special rules to protect the horse industry.

The permit, which would be valid for two seasons, costs $850 a year. Trailers could be occupied only from Oct. 15 through May 30 of the following year.

The RVs would need to be screened with landscaping and be inspected prior to occupancy. They also have to have adequate parking spaces and legal access to a road. Proper electrical, water and sewer services would be required for each RV.

The village council and staff have generally acknowledged demand for RVs as temporary residences.

The rules wouldn’t apply to Little Ranches or Rustic Ranches, neighborhoods that have their own rules permitting RVs as temporary residences.


RV Housing ‘Crisis’ in Northwest North Dakota

October 17, 2012 by · Comments Off on RV Housing ‘Crisis’ in Northwest North Dakota 

The Williams County Commission in northwest North Dakota continues to look for solutions to the problem of campers and recreational vehicles parked illegally throughout the county because there is a woeful shortage of RV parks to accommodate oil and gas workers in the area.

During its meeting Tuesday (Oct. 16), Rick Miller, the county’s new code enforcement officer, presented a preliminary plan to help what he called a “crisis,” the Williston Herald reported

While the initial plan asked for a monthly fee system, the commissioners agreed a better system was to pay annually, and people who pay receive a sticker or tag so law enforcement would know who had paid and who was not in compliance.

The commissioners also said that there should be no more that three RVs allowed on any property, keeping with current guidelines. Also in the preliminary rule was the idea for a “three strikes and you’re out” policy with violators.

In discussion on rule ideas, Commission Chairman Dan Kalil was quick to remind everyone how Williams County got in its current situation. According to Kalil, as early as 2008 or 2009, the county allowed landowners to have three RVs on commercial property. This approval was misunderstood by the people, and as Kalil said, people started putting three RVs around every utility pole.

Kalil also noted that he didn’t know if there were any grounds the commission had to make such a rule, and wasn’t sure if the ground was any firmer on this issue, and that there needed to be public hearing on the issue before anything could really be done.

Commissioner David Montgomery said that he thought that they should allow people to have RVs and campers on their properties, but there was still a lot of need for regulations on how people did it. Kalil also brought up the idea that RVs should not be allowed in residential subdivisions because some people’s neighbors will not want to deal with the noise they may produce.

“Some people just want to be left alone,” Kalil said.

While sewer and water access was already in the preliminary plan, the commissioners also agreed that townships should be involved in making the rules. Also brought up during the discussion was the responsibility of the large employers, who have brought their workers up here with no place to live. Kalil said that Stark County said no to all man camps and instead made big companies build permanent housing.

In response to this, Montgomery said that maybe Williams County should drop their temporary housing moratorium and instead follow in Stark County’s footsteps.

“If you don’t put pressure on them, they won’t do anything,” said Commissioner Wayne Aberle. To close the discussion, Kalil said that the commission was nowhere near ready to approve the rules but that their jobs were to protect everybody’s rights.


Montana Oil Boom Towns Cope with RVs and Sewer Lagoon

July 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Montana Oil Boom Towns Cope with RVs and Sewer Lagoon 

The city commission in Williston, N.D., made a controversial decision two weeks ago when it banned RV residents from parking on residential property.

Now, Sidney, located just across the border into Montana, isn’t exactly on par with the extraordinary growth taking place there, though this city has its own issues to deal with, the Sidney Herald Leader reported. Sidney has trailer parks; one found not up to code but was granted a temporary conditional use permit. And trailers can be found here and there, so they’re not a huge problem … at least not yet.

Could the city of Sidney head in Williston’s direction by banning RVs on residential property? Nearby Glendive, Mont., has for years.

At this point, says Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser, morally it’s not an option. “I think we have to build out first. If we enforce it now, then where will they go?” he said. Sidney is potentially looking at 1,000 new homes and apartments in the coming years. “I think in two to five years we’ll be able to look at it.”

At present, Smelser maintains the city is up against the public perception that it hadn’t prepared enough for the oil boom. “That’s not right because we’ve been after this for a long time,” he said.

The city, of course, has a lot more than RVs on its plate. A 60-day moratorium on new annexations has been up for more than a month now, and the impact fees that were supposed to have been proposed by the end of that moratorium have not come through yet.

The largest issue, however, is the $15 million sewer lagoon replacement. The county will pay for a package plant that will act as a discharge collector, taking pressure off the aging lagoon. But Smelser calls it a “band-aid fix” and has made clear the solution needs more than that.

“The package plant doesn’t do anything to help the lagoon,” he said. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has indicated it is willing to work with the city to solve the issue. There is still “disappointment,” the mayor said, knowing it needed to be fixed but not having the resources to do it.

On Tuesday, city and county leaders met with DEQ representatives to talk about the lagoon and look at the county as a whole to come up with a fix. “There’s no reason why this lagoon can’t be built for 15,000 people,” Smelser said.

He said the city expects to work with DEQ to get through next year’s legislative session as they try to acquire a revenue stream. “I can’t raise my hand now and commit to a $15 million lagoon. We don’t have the funds to fix it,” he said.

The next budget could be scary. An official one should be released by the end of the month but a preliminary budget shows its expected revenue falls short of its expenses – by a million. “It’ll be ugly,” Smelser said, “but we’ll just have to do what we can with what we have…We’ll still have to put some projects on hold even though we know that we should’ve been doing them two or three years ago.” The city already expects a $50 million shortfall in the coming years due to oil impacts.

About an hour south of Sidney, Glendive city officials are preparing to upgrade their $8-9 million lagoon next spring. After learning two years ago about the new and stricter state standards, authorities there conducted an engineering review a year and a half ago and presented recommendations to the city council. They’ll be presented a preliminary design this fall and will go to bid in the winter.

Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison said the lagoon can still hold enough sewage for 10,000; it’s been able to handle new businesses and homes.

Jimison expects to pay for the multi-million project by raising the sewer rates from $16 to $26; the city began raising rates as soon as it learned that the expense was coming. That should bring in a couple million dollars ahead of construction. They’ll also go after grants and the rest financed through a rural loan fund program.

“Sidney and Glendive are working closely together to make sure to mitigate the problems we see coming down the pike, and I think both are learning from each other,” Jimison said. “I think Sidney is more impacted than we are, and we’re fortunate enough that Glendive has actually prepared itself through the last two oil booms.” Infrastructure that was built 35 years ago and was never used is now being utilized, and the city has begun to fill in subdivisions and other properties. “We’re not behind the eight ball, we’re sort of ahead of it,” Jimison said.

Planners Consider Looser ‘Family Care’ RV Rules

April 19, 2012 by · Comments Off on Planners Consider Looser ‘Family Care’ RV Rules 

Recognizing a Trinity County trend of people living in recreational vehicles never designed or intended for permanent occupancy, the planning department in this Northern California county is proposing a looser set of rules that would allow temporary facilities to be permitted as family care units in specific situations, but to better enforce against them being converted to long-term, illegal use.

“We allow mobile homes as temporary housing units now, but some counties allow RVs to be used for that purpose though by state law they are designed for seasonal, temporary occupancy,” Senior Planner Frank Lynch said last week in presenting the issue to the Trinity County Planning Commission. He noted that in Trinity County, the main concern is that RVs do not meet snow load requirements, The Trinity Journal, Weaverville, reported.

Planning Director Rick Tippett said the discussion about family care units is only getting started and is a small part of the larger RV/camping ordinance previously recommended by the commission and awaiting consideration by the board of supervisors.

The proposal is to expand the current county code to allow not only mobile homes, but also RVs as temporary living units for elderly or impaired residents or their caregivers. RVs would be required to have a ramada structure over them to meet snow load; be hooked up to utilities and septic; and include verification that a health care need exists for a family member living there or in the main dwelling on the property.

“I think it meets the economic reality of this county. The downside is how to monitor and make sure they are compliant over time. You could have a renewal process or a placard on the unit that it meets minimum standards, but there are a lot of folks out there who have this need to live in a temporary unit and this would be an avenue to get them legal. We’re trying to be responsive,” Lynch said.

The proposal was a discussion item only and will come back to the planning commission for further consideration and a possible recommendation to the board of supervisors in June.

Commissioners suggested there should be maximum age and minimum size limits on RVs suitable for temporary occupancy permits.

“I get that there are RVs worth more than my whole ranch, but do you want grandma living in a truck camper with no proper bathroom?” said Commissioner Keith Groves, proposing that any RV considered for a temporary use permit be fully self-contained with flush toilet, shower, cooking and sleeping accommodations.

Commissioner Karl Fisher said he is in favor of allowing temporary use for family care, “but we need to have minimum standards. There are structures in Hayfork where you can’t tell if it’s an RV, a mobile home or a shack with plastic over it. I’m in favor of the concept, but also minimum health and safety standards.”

He added that any temporary RV installation “needs to be used as it was supposed to be. There are places where somebody needed the care and passed away, and the unit becomes a rental the next day.”



ELS Mobe Park Residents Balk at RV Invasion

October 1, 2010 by · Comments Off on ELS Mobe Park Residents Balk at RV Invasion 

Peoria, Ariz., senior Nan Cords says she chose to call Apollo Village home only after being assured that recreational vehicles would not share space with the manufactured-home lots in the 1970s retirement community, the Arizona Republic reported.

But more than a year ago, she and others in the 261-lot community in this city of 100,000 on the northwest side of Phoenix noticed RVs parked where there should be only manufactured homes. Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), the owner of Apollo Village, had leased the space to RV owners. And it was done without a special permit the city requires.

About six RVs are parked in the manufactured-home community. At the peak, during the Super Bowl in 2008. there were about 20, according to resident Floyd Krause.

Peoria planners say zoning would allow a limited number of RVs on the property if a conditional use permit is obtained. ELS filed a retroactive application for such a permit, and staff is recommending approval to the Planning and Zoning Commission next week.

The reason the city is recommending the permit be issued is because Apollo Village was built when old zoning was in place. Under current zoning, the city would not allow RVs in a manufactured-home community, Chris Jacques, the city’s planning manager, said.

“If they (ELS) had come in now, we would not have allowed RVs in there,” Jacques said.

City planners have placed some caveats to mitigate negative impacts on the neighbors. But dozens of residents plan to attend the planning meeting to protest, saying the RVs are loud, damage the community’s roads and were never part of the deal.

The code violation came to light after residents complained to the city about the noisy vehicles and some other issues with the upkeep of the property, Cords said.

That’s when city staff inspected the property and noted the RVs shouldn’t be there without the special permit. For now, no more are allowed until the planning commission hears the matter.

“It’s not right,” an upset Cords recently told the Republic. “The owners have allowed RVs and fifth-wheelers to come on the property without permission.”

Jacques said the city recommends that RVs be limited to 30 to 35 at a time, or 15% of the total lots. They would also be restricted to certain areas on the property, further away from the manufactured homes.

Company officials say they plan to stick to just under that 15 percent mark.

The city further recommends requiring a minimum 30 days’ lease to prevent transient use.

Rod Jarvis, the attorney representing Apollo Village, said he was surprised residents were still upset. Jarvis said he thought the residents were OK with the RVs after the company addressed their other complaints related to upkeep over the summer.

“We’ve worked hard with the neighbors; we’ve stretched ourselves,” Jarvis said.

He said the community’s marketing material does not prohibit RVs.

He noted that the residents wanted the streets and sidewalks repaired, among other things, which were addressed. “There was no further input from them and we thought we were in agreement, he said.

Not so, Cords said.

“No sir, we did not have an agreement,” she said she told Jarvis after a planning meeting last month. “You did maintenance work but that was not our agreement to bring RVs in.”

This isn’t the only community where ELS has violated city code. Peoria also wrote up the company for allowing RVs at Casa Del Sol West, another senior manufactured-home community, without a permit.

Jarvis said they’re filing an application for that one.

Impromptu Campground Vexes W. Va. Resident

September 9, 2010 by · Comments Off on Impromptu Campground Vexes W. Va. Resident 

A Meadowbrook, W. Va., woman is concerned for her health after oil and gas workers in campers started moving in long-term around her home, exposing raw sewage to the environment, The State Journal, Charleston, reported.

Karen Henderson brought her problem before the county commission at today’s (Sept. 9) meeting.

She said she is being harassed with paintballs and car headlights at night because of her feelings about the oil and gas workers living in campers without proper sewage and causing what she calls “an environmental hazard.”

Commissioner Ron Watson said the commission can order the Harrison County Board of Health to comply with state rules about campgrounds if the problem is not addressed.

And because Administrator Chad Bundy has successfully cleaned up one of these lots in the past, he reassured her that pursuing her complaint would get her problem resolved.

“They are asking that the health department look into this,” said Henderson after the meeting, “And the health department has indicated today that they are looking into this and they are going to try and actively engage in a process of identification and problem resolution for this.”

“Those campgrounds are a necessity now due to the fact that many people have come to Harrison County to support the gas drilling in the area,” explained Bundy. “What we have done is let the community know that you can’t just start a campground, you have to be permitted by the local health department to do that.”

Henderson said she does feel better after hearing that other lots have been cleaned up and hopes the problem can be taken care of promptly.

Neighbor Disputes Claims in Oregon Park Model Dispute

November 9, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Park model cabins at Hyatt Lake Resort in southern Oregon.

Park model cabins at Hyatt Lake Resort in southern Oregon.

Editor’s Note: Sandy Speasl, a year-round resident of Hyatt Lake, Ore., and a member of Southern Oregon Citizens for Responsible Land Use Planning, wrote this opinion piece that appeared in the Medford, Ore., Mail Tribune. It pertains to a government official’s decision that could force the closing of a park model resort in that southern Oregon community.

We wish to point out several inaccuracies in the Oct. 26 Mail Tribune article concerning Hyatt Lake Resort and to highlight some information about this decision and final order handed down by the independent hearings officer, Donald Rubenstein.

That decision was made after a three-month review of more than 1,000 pages of testimony and information compiled by all the parties in the appeal. Rubenstein’s 42-page decision is available to the public at Jackson County Development Services, as is the county planning staff report.

Last May, neighbors were advised of a zoning decision concerning Hyatt Lake. Because we disagreed with the county’s decision to permit development in a Forest Resource Zone, we filed an appeal. As citizens who live in the area, we were also alarmed when neighbors reported sewage flowing from Bob McNeely’s property into the lake.

McNeely contends he is operating an RV resort. We contend he has built a planned unit development (subdivision) on land that is zoned Forest Resource and has been historically permitted as a seasonal campground only. Rubenstein agrees with our assessment.

We are extremely concerned about potential fire and propane explosions. Each cabin that McNeely has built has an attached 120-gallon propane tank, with no setbacks as required for a house. The cabins are as close together as 7 feet, and surrounded by extensive wooden decks and wooden skirting.

A fire expert who testified at the hearing noted, “This density exceeds the setbacks that are required even under a municipal code where the inhabitants have fire hydrants and city fire departments that respond in under five minutes. This resort has no means of suppression for a full structure fire, let alone multiple structures that would surely follow.”

Rubenstein determined there was “no doubt that the risk of fire from the park model development significantly increases the risk of fire both within and beyond the resort.”

In the article, McNeely claims he is entitled to develop 65 RV spaces and has septic licenses from Jackson County for 35 sites. The county found some evidence to support full service to 21 sites, but found no evidence of approved land-use permits or sanitary sewer permits since 1977.

“There were four or five cabins without kitchens that were rented in some winters but there was no overnight winter recreational use of the resort beyond that,” Rubenstein’s decision said.

In fact, many of the alterations for which McNeely sought permits had already been put in place, apparently violating his federal lease with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as well as county regulations. He also set up an office and administrative building at the resort without permits. It was red-tagged and ordered decommissioned. McNeely is apparently ignoring the county’s order, as this office continues to be used daily.

In the article, McNeely states, “there is much misinformation, particularly about the cabins, which are clearly designated and designed as recreational vehicles.” We would agree with him as to the misinformation.

According to the Oregon Structural Code, a “park trailer” is an RV “built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels … with a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet when in the set-up mode.” The hearings officer found that many of these “park models” set up at Hyatt Lake Resort are actually “two park models attached to one another to form structures that are wider than 30 feet and far in excess of the 400-square-foot limit that governs park model structures. Additionally, many of them have second stories and dormers and lofts, and all of the units have hot tubs. They are advertised as capable of sleeping between two and six people. Evidence establishes that units are used to sleep as many as eight.”

McNeely clearly does not see these units as RVs either, as he openly advertises them as “cabins” and “destination homes.” We encourage people to drive to Hyatt Lake to judge for themselves whether the units resemble RVs or permanent houses.

McNeely blames the county and his neighbors for his financial woes. We contend that Campers Cove LLC did not follow proper procedures.

Admittedly, the county made mistakes in allowing this development to occur in the first place. However, through public input and testimony — a right we may all exercise because we do not live in a communist country — the hearings officer determined what was necessary to correct these errors. It’s now the public’s job to support the county in seeing that the final decision and order are carried out if the state Land Use Board of Appeals determines it should be.