Deal or no deal
RV park developer returns to Saratoga Planning Commission with suggestions, ultimatum
June 16, 2021
It appears the recreational vehicle (RV) park saga might not be over yet.
Over the past year, JaJaCa Properties owners James (Jimmy) Campbell and Jamie Campbell have attempted to construct a new RV park along Wyoming Highway 130. The project was brought to a halt in March, when the couple pulled their special use permit application (see "RV park hits the brakes" on page 1 of the March 17 Saratoga Sun).
At the June 8 Saratoga Planning Commission meeting, a letter was received from the Campbells. The letter highlighted two major grievances with town ordinance.
The first issue presented was the fact RV parks are not included under highway business. The letter claimed RV sales, RV storage, and RV repair all fall under highway business permitted use, while RV parks are a specially permitted use. Section 18.33.020 of Saratoga Municipal Code details designated permitted uses in highway business, which cites mobile home and recreational vehicle sales, service, and rentals.
The letter requested the commission change the ordinance to make RV parks a permitted use under highway business.
Discussion ensued about possible changes to the ordinance. Mayor Creed James stated he didn't know why RV parks weren't included under permitted uses in the first place, but that RV sales and storage are different and need different permits under the state. He added he wouldn't be opposed to recommending an ordinance change to the Saratoga Town Council.
A major factor in the discussion was the zoning of highway business. The ability for RV parks to be a specially permitted use allows the commission to have some control, as not all areas in town would be suitable for an RV park. Tom Westring noted the highway business zone extends to the old Mom's Kitchen property, and from the Riviera Lodge north. The commission brought concern to the idea that, if a property owner were to comply with everything in 18.58, they would be unable to prevent construction of an RV park in the middle of town.
Jimmy Campbell, who was in attendance at the meeting, presented the solution of putting a minimum acreage in the ordinance to prevent that scenario from occurring. Westring brought concern to the idea the acreage could be lowered in the future, therefore defeating its original purpose.
"I think it is a concern because it's our duty to protect things," stated Lindy Glode.
She then presented the idea of the Campbells applying for the special use permit instead.
"A special use permit allows the MacPhersons to dictate what I do. It's a deal breaker," said Campbell.
He noted his electrical engineering permit expires on September 20 of this year, so he is on a deadline for the construction.
Campbell also brought up the potential million dollar revenue the RV park would bring to the town. He stated if the ordinance did not change, then they would sell the property.
"I don't want the special use permit involved in my process here", Campbell said.
Westring expressed his fear they would be in the same place after the public hearings required to change the ordinance. As an alternative, Campbell proposed the council could remove 18.69.010(C)(2), "The proposed use will not be detrimental to the surrounding area or to established uses."
The commission determined this would not be the best course of action. Glode said she would work on a motion for changing the ordinance in the next meeting, with a five acre minimum for RV parks under permitted use.
If the motion passes in the next meeting, it would be brought before the Saratoga Town Council. Three public hearings would then be held to pass the ordinance.
The second issue discussed in the meeting was the size of RV lots under 18.58.040. Campbell stated the lot sizes would be too large for the vehicles.
The ordinance currently requires a 15 foot clearance between vehicles and a 2,500 square foot lot size, with 25 feet in width. Campbell claimed this size was a bleed-over from the mobile home ordinance. 18.57.040, which details mobile home requirements, requires a 25 foot clearance between vehicles and a 4,500 square foot lot size, with 45 feet in width.
Comparable municipalities in Wyoming tend to have a clearance between vehicles of 10-20 feet. Many do not list a minimum lot size in their ordinance, but rather a maximum number of vehicles per acre. For example, the town of Lusk has a separation of 10 feet, with 25 maximum trailer spaces, under town codes 14-40-300 and 14-40-310.
Westring raised the issue of fire fighting, and whether a 10 feet minimum would be enough to bring gear in. Campbell stated the 10 feet starts at the slide-outs, not the body of the vehicle. The commission saw no issue with changing the lot size to 2,100 square feet.
The commission decided to do some research into the matter and make a motion in the next meeting. The change to the two separate ordinances would occur at the same time.
The next meeting of the Saratoga Planning Commission will be at 5:30 p.m. on July 13, at the Saratoga Town Hall.