Rockland gives initial OKs to regulate camper living, lawn sales
Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval Wednesday night, April 12, to a pair of local laws to restrict people from living long-term in campers and also keep people from turning lawn sales into regular retail businesses in residential neighborhoods.
There was no debate concerning the proposed lawn sale regulations, but two councilors voiced concerns about regulating the use of recreational vehicles for long-term living.
Formal public hearings and final votes are scheduled for May 15. If approved, the laws would go into effect June 15.
Councilor Valli Geiger said she does not see why there should be a problem if grandparents stop and visit their family for a month and live in their recreational vehicle during that time.
She also said that with the shortage of affordable housing, particularly in the summer, some people need campers to live. Businesses are also in need of workers who cannot afford other housing, Geiger said.
Councilor Ed Glaser also voiced concern over the measure.
"I'm hesitant to impose more regulations. I'm not in favor of gentrifying Rockland," Glaser said, also pointing out the housing crunch.
Both ended up supporting the measure in the preliminary vote.
Councilor Adam Ackor said there was a definite need for the ordinance. He said the code enforcement officer needs the tools to ensure that basic housing standards are being met.
"Without these tools, the code officer's hands are tied. This is common sense," Ackor said.
Mayor Will Clayton agreed, saying the code officer uses common sense when enforcing ordinances. He said there are three or four campers in the city which do not run and are filled with trash, yet people live in them.
He said people should not be living in such poor conditions.
In addition, he said that if there was a fire it would not only put the residents at risk but the fire and emergency medical services staff who respond.
Two people have died in campers during the past several years, the code officer said last week.
Code Officer John Root said he would be willing to work with the council to make adjustments needed including allowing family to visit longer than now proposed in the ordinance.
The owner of a property in Rockland would be allowed to live in a recreational vehicle or allow immediate family members to live in them from May 1 through Oct. 31 if the owner resides in a single-family or two-family residence on the lot.
Property owners can also allow visitors or relatives to stay in an RV for up to a week if the vehicle has a self-contained sewage disposal, potable water and electrical service.
Recreational vehicles can be parked and occupied on private property -- where there are no residential structures -- for no more than 48 hours during licensed festivals in the city.
In terms of the lawn sale ordinance, yard sales would be limited to four times a year for no more than three days.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit new items from being sold at yard sales.
The code officer has said there have been instances of people buying items and then bringing them to their homes and selling on an ongoing basis. He said this is creating a commercial retail business in residential zones.
Upon completion of lawn sales, all items must be removed from the yard.