New Wellington RV Rules Take Shape

Members of the Wellington Village Council will soon consider changes to the village’s recreational vehicle ordinance.

At a workshop Monday, council members heard proposed changes for the rules governing RVs in the Equestrian Preserve Area.

“Currently they are prohibited within the [Equestrian Preserve Area],” Equestrian Master Plan Project Director Mike O’Dell said. “We’re establishing code for addressing the use of RVs as temporary housing for the equestrian season.”

The issue was initially approached last year when Wellington received requests from farm owners to allow the vehicles. Last January, the previous council voted to suspend enforcement against the vehicles while staff vetted the issue with village committees and came up with changes.

The most important change will consider RVs a “permitted use” within the preserve.

“Under this proposed ordinance, we again would have it as a temporary residence,” O’Dell said. “The RVs would be utilized for the housing of equestrian personnel.”

The vehicles would be considered seasonal and allowable under a seasonal equestrian use permit, he said.

Councilman Matt Willhite asked whether, by issuing a permit, the village would have the authority to make sure all the requirements are being met. “Can we go on site to make sure the electric, water and sewer are being properly utilized?” he asked.

Village Manager Paul Schofield said that all applicants would have to show that they have proper hookups for water, electricity and sewage disposal.

But Willhite asked whether village staff could check to be sure that applicants continue to comply.

“I don’t want them to cancel their pump-out service a month [after they get the permit] and just put [sewage] in a 55-gallon drum in the ground,” he said. “I want to make sure we have the ability to verify that they are in compliance.”

Schofield said that could be added as a condition. “We can develop those conditions and put them in front of you,” he said. “Then you can recommend changes to that once you see them.”

Another primary change to the ordinance, one that probably will extend through other equestrian-related code, updates the term “equestrian season” to reflect the influx of people into the village.

“We’re proposing it be changed to Oct. 15 to May 30,” O’Dell said. “Even though you can identify our equestrian season being possibly December through the end of April, the reality of it is that many of the grooms, trainers and people associated with taking care of the horses arrive much earlier and stay a bit later.”

Language defining what an RV is will also be changed to fall in line with the state definition, O’Dell added.

He said that RVs will have to meet the same setback requirements as houses, barns or other structures on a site. “They will need to be screened, have proper electrical, water and sanitary sewer services,” O’Dell said.

The most prominent rule would govern how many RVs each property can host — an issue that worried some residents last year when the issue was first raised. “It’s based on lot size,” O’Dell said.

Lots of 2.5 to 4.9 acres would be allowed one RV, while lots of 5 to 9.9 acres would be allowed two. Properties with 10 or more acres would be allowed three RVs.

Councilwoman Anne Gerwig said she thought that it would be difficult to manage RVs once they are allowed. “I don’t understand why someone would build a barn for their horses without having a plan for grooms’ quarters,” she said. “I think that this presents an environmental hazard risk. I don’t know that we have staff to monitor this sort of thing. I have a problem with it.”

Gerwig said she’d be more likely to support the ordinance if RVs were allowed for a limited time frame while property owners build an apartment or similar dwelling.

“I didn’t have a problem with this being done on a site that was set aside for it and could be managed,” she said, referring to a controversial proposal last year for an RV park. “It seems to me that it’s taking what could be a problem and spreading it throughout the community.”

Schofield noted that many of the RVs currently in the community aren’t being lived in.

“They’re being stored on the property,” he said. “Where we are having a problem is not in the places where there’s one or two, it’s the very few properties where we have five or six.”

Schofield said the ordinance would next go before the Equestrian Preserve Committee and possibly come back before council members in January.