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What's Next for RV Regulations?

City leaders are trying to sculpt an ordinance that would allow people to keep recreational vehicles.

RV Storage Up For Debate

Where should residents store recreational vehicles? That question has been debated and discussed for more than a year.

“It just doesn’t seem fair that just because we have a small lot that we can’t enjoy things on our own property,” Gulfport resident and RV owner Larry Shepherd said Thursday night.

“I’ve had an RV since 1980, it used to be, we come down, we register with the police department. You could park it behind or beside the house. . . Yeah, I bought a bigger one. Now that started a whole bunch of stuff," John Miller said during the workshop.

Several Gulfport residents spoke up at a City Council Workshop Thursday night at Gulfport City Hall. The issue - Recreational Vehicle Storage in Residential Areas.

Current Ordinance

Current regulations, that were approved in July, limit the amount of RV's to only one per home or piece of land and do not allow that RV to be parked in the front of the property. The changes are affecting RV owners in Gulfport.

Community Development Director Fred Metcalf approached councilors in October saying that about 50 RV's are not in compliance under the new stricter ordinance.

Below are the current regulations up for debate.

"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."

To address this issue council members moved forward with looser regulations that would have allowed residents to have more than one RV on their property and store one or more RV's in the side or rear yard as long as they were shielded by a 6-foot opaque fence or solid vegetative screen.

That move didn't seem to satisfy residents or RV owners. Read more about what they had to say at that meeting in our story, "Loosened RV Regulations Moving Forward."

Due to mixed reviews, council members moved to discuss the issue at a workshop.

Workshop Discussion

Thursday night, they held that workshop and again came up with ideas on how to address the RV's that are not in compliance.

RV owners Lloyd Goodwin and Larry Shepherd stepped forward saying they have no where else to park their RV's other than in front of their homes.

“My problem is that we have no alley access, we have no access to our backyard at all,“ Larry Shepherd said.

“I would like to urge you to at least let us have one vehicle on our property, somewhere. I hope you will consider allowing us to park somewhere in front,” Lloyd Goodwin said.

Thursday night Community Development Director Fred Metcalf shared a presentation and included an option of grandfathering in current RV's or allowing people to apply for a variance if they cannot come into compliance.

Shepherd and Goodwin said if a new ordinance prohibits them from parking recreational vehicles in their front yards, they would have to apply for a variance.

Metcalf said variance guidelines would be up to council and could be a one time permit or application. Council members discussed if the variance would be applied to the owner, the property or the vehicle.

“We try to satisfy everything with an option,” Mayor Mike Yakes said during the discussion.

Yakes is in favor of grandfathering in current RV's. “I like the idea of going into the grandfather to allow the existing one’s to stay, if you cannot put it anywhere else but the front yard of those few – than let’s do that,” Yakes said.

Council member Dan Liedtke didn't agree with the verbiage "grandfathering" and preferred the council refer to it as an exemption or a variance.

Councilwoman Jennifer Salmon agreed with allowing variances as long as the RV did not block the city's right of way.

Vice Mayor Sam Henderson agreed with the idea.

"I don’t want to see them park in the front yard, so I’m trying to walk that line between," Henderson said.

He also suggested minimizing setbacks so people can fit RV's on their lots.

"I would propose that the 15 (feet) be reduced to 5 (feet) and the other two (setbacks) be reduced to 3 (feet)," he said.

Moving Forward

Overall, the council was in consensus with moving forward with the following guidelines for a future ordinance:

  • limit one RV per house
  • prohibit parking in the front
  • continue the class B exemption
  • no screening required
  • leaving the 120 hour allowance for usage during the year

City Manager Jim O'Reilly and city staff will draft an ordinance and bring it forward in a future workshop.

Resident Larry Shepherd says he appreciates all the council's work, but any changes will still impact him. He and his wife, Janet, moved here 10 years ago and weren't informed until now that they weren't in compliance.

“When we bought it the people had an RV parked there so we always assumed we could,” Janet Shepherd said.

The Shepherd's believe there is a compromise out there, but the council can't get too nick picky or else it just won't work.

"We didn’t move to Gulfport to live in a gated community. And that’s what I feel like their trying to create is these restrictions and conveyances of gated communities," Larry Shepherd said.

For More Information:

View the workshop agenda on this link.

Louis Amandola December 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I am not aware of Larry's RV size or his parking situation but my comment on the RV issue (of which I also own one) are the same as that which I stated at our first meeting on this issue last year. Namely, council should have have serious sit down with our Gulfport Fire department first and foremost. We all in Gulfport truly respect and admire our police and fire departments and should in this respect consider 'life safety' as our primary goal. The Fire department requires minimum clearances in and around all structures (state law) for logistical purposes. The building department (I am sure) requires minimum clearances. The post office requires minimum clearance from mail boxes, etc. etc. Can't we just use a little common sense and primarily abide by a 'life safety' code. It should not matter where you park your RV on your property so long as you maintain the proper building and property line clearances. IE- common sense dictates that if an RV parked less than 10 feet from a structure would greatly deter the fire department from performing their duty if a fire erupted within the structure.

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