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While Debate Over RVs, Campgrounds Continues, Owners Say They Can Address Problem

Summit County

The Summit County Council on Wednesday continued to get a lot of public input about a proposed ordinance to control private campgrounds and limit the use of RV’s on residential lots.

Most of the comments came from owners in the Manorlands and Uintalands neighborhoods, near the Mirror Lake Highway, arguing that the County Council should let homeowner associations deal with the problems existing there.   

County Council Chairman Glenn Wright said more than 130 people attended the hearing online.      The public comment lasted over two hours with nearly 25 citizens speaking.

The county has been prompted to consider reported problems with multiple RVs on private lots, ranging from the Highway 150 area to the Samak neighborhood near Kamas.

Among the comments, the President of the Board of Directors of Uintalands, Mike Malan, said they have worked to responsibly govern the area.       

“We feel like we’re a pretty good steward of the environment there.   And we’d rather have the opportunity to self-regulate.   And I think that we’ve done a good job of that.  We have by-laws.   We have covenants and rules and regulations which specifically preclude the dumping of any sewage other than in a septic tank.  And we do monitor that.  We’ve had situations where people have not been hooked up, and when we’ve found it, then we’ve fined em”

Representatives from Manorlands said they have been working to formulate regulations for their neighborhood.

Chris Valdez, the vice-president of the Manorlands Homeowners Association, said if the county sets up a new ordinance, it will likely be an enforcement nightmare.   He added that the problem isn’t just trailers.    There have been instances where cabins didn’t supply the proper infrastructure or didn’t follow planning code.

But Valdez said it seems like the county is targeting trailers.     

“I feel like there’s a pre-expectation of this whole meeting, is, we’ve got to get rid of trailers.  It’s gotta be residential, cabins only, trailers are trash.   And I really just don’t like that image.   Because I feel that both parties are looking out for the best of our areas, whether it be Manorlands, Uintalands or Samak, we’re all working out for the best.  Yes, there are bad apples out there, whether it’s trailer or cabin.  And I just really believe that we have an opportunity here to protect, environmentally and safety-wise, I mean I’m with ya.  We don’t want fires or people dumping sewage into the rivers and streams and everything.”

Colette Albertson said she’s recreated in Summit County since she was a child and built a cabin here.    But she said she supports those who visit the area in trailers.     

“And how lucky are we that we are able to bring our families together in trailers or in cabins or in tents and enjoy all this that is here.  I think we’re losing sight of the fact that this is generational and that people actually are enjoying getting together with each other on the weekends.  It’s not—long as people aren’t living in their trailers, right and left, they’re just here for the weekend.   And it’s their place that’s already set up there.   They’re able to leave work on Friday, get up here.  Their kids play in the dirt, they sit around and talk.  And I just think that we’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

One exception to the comments was John Anderson, who said he owns three lots in Manorlands and contended the situation there has gotten out of control.

County Council member Doug Clyde said Manorlands is a “poster child for subdivisions that cannot police themselves.”

But he told KPCW afterward that the problem isn’t just in Manorlands, and the problems have developed over decades.      

“It has to do with a bunch of different, what we call cabin developments, which were unfortunate ideas that popped up probably in the Seventies, in which people thought, well, I’ll sell off my sheep-grazing land for property that somebody can develop a cabin on.  And they became fairly popular.   There were lots of em done.  Manorlands is one in which probably the majority of the lots do not have anything built on them at this point.    And they have generally been used essentially as private campgrounds.  And that is entirely contrary to the zoning.”

He said they’ve heard reports of lots that were hosting a dozen trailers at once; or locations that had four trailers posted there year-round.

Clyde also responded to the critics who suggested the Council is prejudiced against trailers.     

“Whether I like trailers or not is not the question.  A lot of those trailers up there are really nice pieces of equipment.  People have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in their trailers.   This was not about whether you’re staying in your trailer or not.   This is about whether you’re operating a campground next to a residence.  And they’re just incompatible uses.”

And Clyde didn’t agree with owners who argued their lots are in a recreational area, not a neighborhood.        

“There’s nothing remotely logical or provable about the notion that they were permitted as campgrounds.  It’s just completely specious.”

And while critics said that the proposed ordinance is ‘one size fits all” Clyde said government implements many regulations that fit that description.

Following the public hearing, Council Chairman Glenn Wright said the council will probably continue the discussion in about two weeks.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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