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Loosened RV Regulations Moving Forward

Gulfport City Councilors approved a less rigid RV storage ordinance during first reading.

In an effort to accommodate about 50 recreation vehicles that are not in compliance, city councilors are moving forward with less strict regulations.

Last year, councilors approved an ordinance that limited RV's to only one per home or piece of land and it specified exactly where the RV could be stored in relation to the structure, yard line and alley.

On Tuesday, councilors unanimously approved changing the ordinance and making the regulations less rigid because staff has since informed the City Manager about difficulties enforcing the stricter rules.

City Manager Jim O'Reilly said the new ordinance "remedies that" and makes it possible for people to keep an RV.

"The biggest change is the elimination of the setbacks and the allowance of at least one RV in the front yard," Fred Metcalf said.

"I'm glad that we worked it through and I think it's a good correction and I think it's livable," Jennifer Salmon said.

Mayor Mike Yakes said he supported the changes, wanted to vote on it and "be done with it."

"I don't believe you'll have an ordinance that will satisfy all of the properties," he said.

Yakes pointed out that the city was built out in the 1960's and many of the properties and "non conforming lots."

"Without even an effort you can fall into a non compliance," Yakes added.

"I think we need to adopt this and live with it, because you are trying to change something that won't fix," Mayor Yakes said.

The regulations approved in July only allowed one RV per piece of property and did not allow that RV to be parked in the front of the property.

Here are the current regulations that could be loosened if council approves changes during second reading.

"No recreational vehicle shall be placed kept or maintained except in the rear or side yard of any parcel of land within the city, nor beyond the front of any structure upon said property, nor within six (6) feet of the side yard line of an interior lot, nor within fifteen (15) feet of the side yard line or a corner lot, which side yard line abuts a street or alley, nor within fifteen (15) feet of the rear property line, nor within five (5) feet of any structure located upon said property."

The changes, which were unanimously approved during first reading include:

  • allowing residents to have more than one RV on their property.
  • allowing utility hookup for electric services

If passed during second reading, residents would be able to park one RV in the front yard and store one or more RV's in the side or rear yard as long as they are shielded by a 6-foot opaque fence or solid vegetative screen.

The changes also allow Class B RV's, such as vans up to 23 feet in length, that are used for day-to-day transportation, to be exempt from the storage regulations.

In the new ordinance, visiting RV's have been differentiated from RVs loading and unloading. The 120 hour, twice per year time frame has been left. The original ordinance provision that allowed for loading and unloading of RVs for trips has been reinserted and modified to allow such this use for periods less than 72 hours at any time.

Mixed Comments from Residents:

Gulfport resident Emmett Walsh expressed great concern over the more lenient regulations.

"It looks like we are changing this ordinance to accommodate the violators.. . . Many citizens have spent a lot of time, a lot of money and effort to improve the looks of this city, do we really want RV's parked on the front lawns of our neighborhood?"

Walsh feels the new changes are going backwards. "The existing ordinance is better left alone."

Walsh also stated that since there's no limit to RV's in the new ordinance, a resident can legally fit four RV's on a lot. He added that Gulfport could host RV parking for the rest of the county.

"This ordinance will blight the look of our city," he said.

Gulfport resident Patricia Milward stepped forward and said she thinks the changes are fine.

"I don't think anybody's going to have a multitude of RV's," she said.

Gulfport resident Debra Sabourin, an RV owner, stated that her "toy" is expensive and not a blight in neighborhoods.

"I paid a little over 65,000 for that thing and trust me, it's not blight in my neighborhood," she said.

Sabourin said one of the reason's she moved here was to have her "toys" and be within the city's regulations.

She's happy with the changes and thanked leaders for being more accommodating for RV owners.

"I am very grateful and I live in a live and let live city," she said.

Gulfport resident Al Davis said he was watching the meeting from home when he decided to come out and speak up.

"Struck me that once again we have a recommendation to pass bad law. I think you've gotten yourself in a position here, where you've created more of a problem," he said.

"I don't care what you're decision is," Davis added at the end of public comment.

Phil October 05, 2012 at 01:23 PM
That is sad, it just shows you that the City of Gulfport is lazy and weak when it comes to enforce any violations in city codes. I say fire the mayor for being WEAK and fire the city managers and bring in people to enforce the city codes. Gulfport will look like some backwards town with RV's parked everywhere. Make them park at a RV Storage facility. Sad to see Gulfport not care about the looks, this will bring down property values even more than they are now. Who wants to live next door to someone with a RV parked in their yard. It's just like the freeloader on their boats in the bay in front of the beach park. This is becoming one backwards town. We need NEW people running Gulfport who will be strong and enforce the city codes.
Phil October 05, 2012 at 01:28 PM
One more comment, RV owners are snowbirds or at least most are, leave your RV at your home up north and not make your part time city look like a backwards hick town. Or better yet stay up north or wherever you come from. I don't care what you paid for your so called "TOY" they don't belong in a front yard, they either belong on the road or in storage out of site of this city. What's next a bath tub in the front yard or a old couch on a porch.. oh wait we already have that here..... a very weak city counsel we have.
Leonardo October 05, 2012 at 01:54 PM
How bourgeois of ms saboutin to state that since she paid $65,000 for her 'toy' and that it makes her street look nice. Is this the person who council want to make happy? The city needs boundaries. What about propert owners who don't want an obstructive view of oversized buses? How will this effect property values in the future? Will someone want to buy a home with a horrible view of a $65,000 toy elephant? Come on council, get with it and take the city into the future, don't go backwards!
Phil October 05, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I am on your side, love your comment!! wish more people here would stand up against the weak city counsel members and demand they enforce the city codes.
Juju Stevens October 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
So, wait, I can now put an electrical and sewerage hookup in my front yard and rent out the space in the winter, and/or storage space in the summer as long as I pretend it's not really a rental ? Are you people NUTS ? Sure, we'd love to have a sewer hook-up for our camping trailer in the back yard so we could use it as a guest house. But I'd also love louder noise ordinances, musicians paid at a fair rate and free tree service. I don't expect my neighbors to put up with what is essentially a guest house without going through a permitting process with housing and fire codes being met. Do y'all get that allowing someone to set up for 3 months is more than a nicely cleaned expensive RV sitting on someone's yard ? It also means people using it, which means grills and chairs and tables and parties in the yard on a Tuesday night and issues. Trust me, sooner or later, the sewer lines leak. Without a doubt, the tanks have to be emptied. They use propane. Propane leaks. (there's a reason they all have propane leak detectors). You may think that some middle-end RV is fine and good. Drive by and take a good look at ours; we had to patch the roof with dark colored patch though we keep it tarped because of the oak trees. It's 12 years old. We love it, you would, trust me, hate it if we put it in the front yard.
Rainbow Energy October 05, 2012 at 07:36 PM
From Gulfport Watchdogs (Like on Facebook!) Welcome to GulfrufusPort-Home of Vehicular Yard Art! Does the Council care anything about how this city looks? We know Banno and Henderson are gunning for votes but what was going thru the minds of the other three? When Gulfport resident and premier archetect Emmett Walsh ( who seldom utters a peep) takes the time from his busy schedule to come to a Council Meeting and question the notion of unlimited RV's on residential properties it is time to pay attention. Hello Council, just once, heed an expert's advice!!
chuck cox October 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
My rv looks a whole lot nicer than most of the houses down there we have look at buying. We like how they are set up in la. With laws that in certain areas they must have concrete pads with roofs to form to the rules

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