After years of discussion surrounding recreational vehicles in Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve, a plan has begun to take shape that will allow use of the temporary homes during the winter season.
On Wednesday, Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board unanimously approved recommendation of several measures that would permit but tightly regulate the use of RVs in the preserve.
“Currently they are prohibited,” Equestrian Master Plan Director Mike O’Dell said. “This would allow them as a temporary housing during the equestrian season.”
Despite being prohibited, O’Dell said that there are a number of RVs in the area illegally. “There were 82 found at the time [when the survey was done],” he said.
The proposed regulations would allow one RV on 2.5 to 5 acres, two RVs on 5 to 10 acres and three RVs on properties of 10 acres or more. Property owners would be able to have RVs only for two consecutive equestrian seasons before going before the Wellington Village Council for special approval.
Additionally, the property owner would have to provide electric, sewage and water, and get all required inspections and permits before someone could live in the RV.
But Board Member Marcia Radosevich felt that homeowners should build permanent structures for their employees.
“They are, frankly, too cheap to invest money into this community to build permanent housing for grooms,” she said. “They want to do it on the cheap, and they want to turn it into a trailer park.”
Radosevich said she felt it could have negative consequences for the community.
“It’s tacky,” she said. “It siphons off money from people putting grooms up in homes. It creates a temporary, transient community, which is only negative.”
She was also concerned by the lack of code enforcement on the issue already, let alone when they are allowed. “I would consider something like this, but with great trepidation,” Radosevich said.
Board Member Mike Drahos was concerned about allowing the vehicles in Wellington, but noted that it seems to be a continually pressing issue. “You keep coming back to us with ideas,” he said. “This seems to be the most stringent. I figure at some point we have to accept one.”
Drahos said he would like to see stricter penalties for those found in violation of the code.
“If we increase the penalties, it creates the fear that once it’s gone, they’re not getting it back,” he said. “I’m not going to support this unless there are really strong penalties in place.”
Drahos suggested revoking a landowner’s ability to have RVs at the first violation, but Board Chairman Craig Bachove felt that was too stringent. “You need to give them at least one warning with time to make a correction,” Bachove said.
Board Member Paul Adams suggested residents receive a warning with 30 days to correct any violations. “We have to be fair,” he said.
Bachove agreed, but felt that a second violation should go immediately to the magistrate for handling. “If they’re guilty, they lose their permit,” he said.
Radosevich also suggested stronger measures for property owners seeking to use RVs for more than two seasons.
“When they come before the council, they should have to show proof that they are planning to build a permanent structure,” she said.
Issues of occupancy and parking were also of concern to board members, who suggested that property owners be required to say how many people would be living in each RV on the property, as well as the number of bedrooms in the vehicle. They also suggested between two and four parking spaces per RV, depending on the number of occupants.
Board Member Carol Coleman made a motion to approve the ordinance as amended, which passed unanimously.
Drahos clarified that he felt the rules were a necessary compromise to regulate the RV use that is already occurring.
“I just want to clarify that my voting for this is a compromise,” he said. “I believe it’s a tool that we can use to weed out this RV situation.”