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Thread: RV ordinance

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    RV ordinance

    I've been tasked with rewriting our current RV Ordinance. I've looked up a few others from around the area, but none come anywhere close to ours in terms of what we have allowed. I am quite new to the job, and honestly I've never seen anything like this.

    Our current RV ordinance actually allows individuals to BUILD ON to their RV's in select areas. They can build a room addition, screened patio, etc. Essentially the only real requirement is a height limit, and that the RV retain the ability to be mobile (most really are not, something I need to begin code enforcement on).

    There are limits in lot sizes, but most of the time the lots never met these requirements to begin with (grandfathered, almost ALL of them). Inevitably, someone comes in and wants to put an addition, patio, etc in, and cannot meet setbacks without spending thousands to move the trailer, so they apply for a variance which is almost always granted.

    Does anyone have an ordinance like this? I think we are in the extreme minority in allowing these to be built on to. There is no way I can eliminate the ability to build on to them. We have 2 major "gated" communities that would raise too much of a fuss over it if I even looked at going that route. Just hoping someone has dealt with a similar issue!

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    I've been tasked with rewriting our current RV Ordinance. I've looked up a few others from around the area, but none come anywhere close to ours in terms of what we have allowed. I am quite new to the job, and honestly I've never seen anything like this.

    Our current RV ordinance actually allows individuals to BUILD ON to their RV's in select areas. They can build a room addition, screened patio, etc. Essentially the only real requirement is a height limit, and that the RV retain the ability to be mobile (most really are not, something I need to begin code enforcement on).

    There are limits in lot sizes, but most of the time the lots never met these requirements to begin with (grandfathered, almost ALL of them). Inevitably, someone comes in and wants to put an addition, patio, etc in, and cannot meet setbacks without spending thousands to move the trailer, so they apply for a variance which is almost always granted.

    Does anyone have an ordinance like this? I think we are in the extreme minority in allowing these to be built on to. There is no way I can eliminate the ability to build on to them. We have 2 major "gated" communities that would raise too much of a fuss over it if I even looked at going that route. Just hoping someone has dealt with a similar issue!

    Thanks for any help!
    Are you talking about RV's in licensed campgrounds, or on privately owned lots of land? Here, licensed campgrounds are licensed by the state and law states that no permanent structures are allowed, and then there was an AG opinion which determined "permanent" - basically nothing can be attached to the RV and the RV has to be capable of being pulled away within so many seconds. On private parcels of land, we only allow people to occupy RV's for up to six weeks with a permit. Other than that, you can basically only store them on your property, not live in them. If someone wanted to live in one, I think we would treat them the same way we treat mobile homes - they are permitted but they have to comply with minimum square footage requirements, be permanently hooked up to City utilities, attached to a permanent foundation, etc.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    These are campgrounds that allow for permanent living in an RV. Actually we have two ordinances that deal with 2 specific areas. One is an "RV Resort" the other is a "Campground". The only real difference in the two is that the Resort has a better established regulatory system. One is also a non-profit organization, the other is not, if that means anything.

    Both are on private land. Essentially these are a lot like your standard gated community, you buy the lot and pay the HOA fees.

    Let me clarify, nothing is supposed to be attached to the RV, but I would bet most of them are probably attached in some way (no way to know on some of these).

    To give you an idea on the size of these resorts, one is home to 1,509 separate lots on roughly 195 acres....

    Oh I should also mention, these are predominantly vacation lots, but there are those who live there permanently. I've been told that one of the campgrounds in particular is quite the place to go do code enforcement during the summer months...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have often sseen what you describe, most often in the south where snowbirds want to congregate. Having the warmer weather, they want to enjoy it with a nice patio and maybe a screen room. Then they want a covered parking space or perhaps even a shed or garage to be able to store the barbeque grill and other items while they are traveling. Frankly, I do not see this as a problem, provided the improvements are done with some quality and there is adequate space on the "lot". One way this could be achieved is by requiring a management plan that dictates specifications for the improvements as part of the approval process. The job of regulation would then fall mainly to the owner of the park. In your case the city may need to be the regulator, which is a nightmare. Definitley have a talk with your code enforcement people to get their input as you propose changes to the ordinance.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I have often sseen what you describe, most often in the south where snowbirds want to congregate. Having the warmer weather, they want to enjoy it with a nice patio and maybe a screen room. Then they want a covered parking space or perhaps even a shed or garage to be able to store the barbeque grill and other items while they are traveling. Frankly, I do not see this as a problem, provided the improvements are done with some quality and there is adequate space on the "lot". One way this could be achieved is by requiring a management plan that dictates specifications for the improvements as part of the approval process. The job of regulation would then fall mainly to the owner of the park. In your case the city may need to be the regulator, which is a nightmare. Definitley have a talk with your code enforcement people to get their input as you propose changes to the ordinance.
    No city, they are in county jurisdiction. Also, I am the code enforcement people

    I have no real problem with what they do out there either, but they generally do it without building permits, and almost always violate setbacks. We have very general guidelines when adding on, perhaps I should make those a little more stringent? One thing we are looking at is helping the HOA out there establish a building board. Only think I am weary of is how corrupt this building board could become. The other community has one, but its generally run quite fairly. I've heard rumors that years ago the one particular campground had a board, but it was incredibly corrupt, to the point where the head of the board was also the main builder in the campground. He refused to pass anything unless HE was building it.

    I'm not sure if there is any way I could be able to control the board in some way to eliminate this if I see it happening?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    I have no real problem with what they do out there either, but they generally do it without building permits, and almost always violate setbacks. We have very general guidelines when adding on, perhaps I should make those a little more stringent?
    Depends on what you want to make more strigent. If you want them to pull permit and follow setback, it sounds as though you have a method for that now and should just start enforcing it. If you want to prevent a lot from being overbuilt, more so than what the setbacks provide, maybe consider a maximum lot coverage percentage. I'm not sure an HOA would help, any rules they come up with have to be enforced by them, not the County.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Have you checked some mobile home ordinances? Around here that's what RVs fall under around here. Other than the fact that we don't allow permanent habitation in RVs (we allow 90 days), they have to adhere to all the mobile home regulations unless we're talking a campground.

    I'm not sure if this applicable in your situation but we started targeting park owners instead of the individual residents. We instituted a few (minor) additional requirements on parks and do yearly inspections. Before we except the park's yearly fee, they must be in compliance otherwise they face fines or closure.

    I'm curious about the habitation aspect of RVs since it generally seems to be a big no no for someone to be living in one permanently. How many of the RVs are occupied year round?
    Last edited by Blide; 15 Nov 2012 at 1:39 PM.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I'm curious about the habitation aspect of RVs since it generally seems to be a big no no for someone to be living in one permanently. How many of the RVs are occupied year round?
    We estimate around 10%, but there is no exact number.

    I can't really go off mobile home requirements since our zoning language has separate definitions for a mobile home vs. an RV. The Resort allows modular homes with basements, the campground only allows ANSI Park Models, motor homes, pickup coaches, tents and RV camping trailers with or without facilities. If the home has a HUD sticker on it, it can't be located in the campground.

    Thankfully there is language to disallow people from living permanently in a tent

    One of the largest issues here is that the RV Resort does NOT have to follow setback regulations if the RV site was platted before the ordinance. For the Campground, they must first be in compliance of setback regs. before we can issue a building/zoning permit. Essentially these two places are the exact same thing, but one gets to do things the other can't. This causes all sorts of fights here.

    If anyone is interested in a link to either of the ordinances, PM me and I'll send it to you.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I have often sseen what you describe, most often in the south where snowbirds want to congregate. Having the warmer weather, they want to enjoy it with a nice patio and maybe a screen room. Then they want a covered parking space or perhaps even a shed or garage to be able to store the barbeque grill and other items while they are traveling. Frankly, I do not see this as a problem, provided the improvements are done with some quality and there is adequate space on the "lot". One way this could be achieved is by requiring a management plan that dictates specifications for the improvements as part of the approval process. The job of regulation would then fall mainly to the owner of the park. In your case the city may need to be the regulator, which is a nightmare. Definitley have a talk with your code enforcement people to get their input as you propose changes to the ordinance.
    There are a few of these in other parts of the country, too. There's an RV resort that sounds a lot like these in Cattaraugus County, NY. I'm familiar with it because my friends are members, and they've looked at buying a permanent lot there. Members buy memberships, some of which are transferrable. That means they can bring in their RV and camp for however long they're willing to pay for. There's a bunch of amenities like pool, paddle boats, game rooms, etc. Additionally, members can purchase permanent lots if they want, and more or less permanently set their RV up on it. Some can be easily moved. Others not so much as they may shed decks and awnings in the process of moving. Still others seem to have morphed into cottages.

    AFAIK, nobody is allowed to live there full time. However, some of the permanent lots are designated "year round" lots and have access to water and sewer even in winter, so I suppose somebody could inhabit one of those all year round. A lot of people with permanent sites do live there 24/7 during the summer, especially "reverse snowbirds".

    This resort was built back in the 1980s, perhaps even earlier, and I'm guessing that its practices are grandfathered if they are even covered in the town zoning. Zoning is NOT a concept that was welcomed or came early to Catt County (zoning is entirely a town NOT a county thing here in NYS), and I bet there are some towns that still don't have zoning ordinances at all. I think the only reason the town where I own land has a zoning ordinance at all is that a then-member of the town board (circa 1970) wanted to drum up business for his mobile home park, so he pushed a zoning ordinance that included a ban on single-wide mobile homes in residential zones. Still, even 40+ years later, it's a rudimentary ordinance that basically defines zones and permitted uses, sets minimum lot and residence sizes, minimum distances from roads, etc. It does prohibit "dependent mobile homes", which are essentially RVs used as permanent living quarters without their own electric, water, and septic. That's more than some neighboring towns do, though, because you do see these things fairly frequently when you travel the back roads.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Linda, that is EXACTLY what I am dealing with.

    The Campground at one point had a limit on consecutive stay's but they no longer restrict that, so people do indeed live there year around.

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