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Law takes effect next month

Rockland OKs RV restrictions

By Stephen Betts | Jul 11, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Rockland — There will be clear limits on people living in recreational vehicles parked in Rockland beginning next month.

The Rockland City Council voted 3-1 Monday evening, July 11, to give final approval to an ordinance that regulates the use of such vehicles.

Under the RV ordinance -- which will become effective Aug. 10 -- the owner of a property in Rockland would be allowed to live in a recreational vehicle or allow immediate family members to live in one 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 other 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.

The code officer has in the past pointed out that there are people living in recreational vehicles where minimum housing safety standards are not met and that two people have died in such living conditions over the past several years.

The 3-1 vote (Councilor Ed Glaser opposed) came despite a memo last month from the author of the ordinance -- Code Enforcement Officer John Root -- to indefinitely postpone a vote. Councilor Valli Geiger was absent from the July 10 meeting.

"I will endeavor to continue to properly enforce those regulations we already have. Some have suggested that those who enforce ordinances should not be the ones to write them. This job is difficult enough as it is, and I am beginning to see that being an author of regulations might be perceived as a conflict of interest or an attempt to empower this position," Root said in his June 12 email. "Although I have no such desire, how my position is perceived is very important."

Glaser said he opposed the ordinance because he did not favor a ban on people living in RVs. He pointed out that his son was working on an RV in Glaser's backyard, but that his son was not living in the camper. He said he would abstain from voting if requested by the council.

There was no such request.

Councilor Adam Ackor said it was inaccurate to refer to the ordinance as a ban. He said it was a mechanism for the code officer to enforce minimal standards on people living in unsafe conditions.

The Rockland Lodge of Elks had asked earlier this year for an exception to allow Elks members to park their recreational vehicles on the Rankin Street property from May 1 through Oct. 31. There would have had to be proper sewer, water and electrical connections.That clause was not in the ordinance approved Monday night.

The city's Comprehensive Planning Commission issued a memo to the City Council April 25, saying the proposed RV ordinance did not comply with the community's approved comprehensive plan for zoning. The commission said the comprehensive plan does not allow RVs to be used for overnight occupation for any length of time.

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