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RV park ordinance, zoning tabled

The Sunnyside City Council last night scheduled a hearing for an RV park ordinance and zoning consideration.

Although the hearing for the ordinance was held, the hearing for the zoning laws was tabled because the city council requested changes in the ordinance.

There have been several planning commission meetings regarding the laws that would regulate RV parks in Sunnyside, including public hearings.

The proposed ordinance will dictate the minimum and maximum acreage for an RV park. It will also give requirements for the number of restroom facilities and other amenities that can be located on a property used for recreational vehicle users.

Sunnyside Planner Jamey Ayling said the newly proposed ordinance separates parks for recreational vehicles from mobile home parks.

Before, the two were included in the same ordinance and Ayling said the separation of the two will eliminate confusion for developers.

"The old ordinance was tailored to older RVs," he said, stating many of the newer recreational vehicles contain facilities like showers and toilets, eliminating the need for more outside restroom facilities located at an RV park.

When asked by Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis about the ordinance provisions for RVs used as permanent residences, Ayling said the proposed ordinance prohibits such use at an RV park.

Nor can an RV park owner rent RVs as permanent residences.

Ayling said there is not, however, a limited stay provision in the proposed ordinance because there are concerns. He said there are occasions when individuals must stay an extended time at a temporary facility like an RV park.

Citing contractors and their employees working on long-term projects like Sunnyside High School as an example, he said those individuals would not use the RV park as a permanent residence, but need to stay longer than 30 days.

Ayling said there are also ways of skirting a limited stay provision, such as renting one slot for the time allotted and moving to another slot when that time expires.

"It's a catch-22," he said.

The looming question posed by the council members was the issue regarding the number of spaces that could be included in an RV park.

Also, there aren't any guidelines determining space size.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock noted the maximum size of an RV park would be 10 acres and the minimum size would be two acres, according to the proposed ordinance.

However, the language allows up to 10 RV slots per acre.

"I'm concerned there could be 200 RVs on 10 acres," said Hancock, noting the RVs could be crammed side-by-side.

Ayling said, "We wrestled with the issue."

He said there was a concern regarding how an RV park owner would add a clubhouse or other amenities if there were more limitations on the number of slots that could be included.

"Where do you draw the line?" he asked.

Councilman Don Vlieger said the ordinance should detail the minimum size of RV slots to prevent overuse of space.

Port of Sunnyside Property Development and Project Manager Jed Crowther spoke up during the hearing, stating there are other communities with ordinances addressing the matter of minimum space size for RV parks.

He provided the city council ordinances from the city of Connell, where he served as community development manager, and from the city of Grandview.

Grandview's ordinance has a 25-foot width requirement and Connell's requires spaces no less than 2,000 square feet in size.

"Congestion can be an issue, especially with pop-outs," said Crowther.

"Clarity is important for the development (of an RV park)," he said.

Sunnyside resident Jason Raines, a candidate seeking election to the city council this fall, also spoke at the hearing, stating he believes a maximum stay provision should be included in the ordinance to make RV parks "tourist friendly."

Considering the provisions the city council wishes to have added to the proposed ordinance, including the minimum space size, the Sunnyside City Council agreed to table the ordinance until Ayling reviews and adds the provisions.

As a direct result, council tabled the public hearing on the B-1 Freeway Commercial zoning issue, which includes RV parks as permitted use, until the ordinance is approved.

The Sunnyside City Council moved the two issues to the Monday, Oct. 10, regular meeting.

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