Morgan commission places regulations on RV parks
By Michael Wetzel
For the Enquirer
With an influx of contract workers living in recreational vehicles as they work construction on north Alabama projects, the Morgan County Commission this past week implemented changes that include limiting residents’ stays at new RV parks to 180 days and requiring that the RVs remain mobile.
County engineer Greg Bodley said the three pages of amendments to the county’s subdivision regulations adopted April 12 were necessary to define the difference between an RV park and a mobile home park in preparation for an expected increase in the number of RV parks locating in the county.
He said the amendments apply only to RV parks established in the future or to existing RV parks that expand.
Ensuring that the RV residences are temporary and that the parks are easily accessible are the main thrust of the amendments, Bodley said. He said only rented lots are allowed.
“What we looked at is how we could carve out something for the RV-type environment,” he said. “The reason we have standard roads in mobile home parks is people live there. They have their belongings there. It is their house.
“When you look at RV parks, everything should be mobile. Those lots are for temporary residences.”
He said COVID might have boosted the RV industry and the demand for RV sites in the county.
“Some people quit staying in motels because of the pandemic, and people started traveling more like that,” he said. “They started staying in RVs and taking all of their belongings with them.”
He said contract workers at the major plants and in Huntsville are increasingly living in RVs while working temporary jobs. The 180-day limit, he said, prevents RV parks from becoming permanent residences.
“Our goal is we don’t want (the RV) to be fixed to the property,” he said.
Bodley said the owner of the park must maintain the interior roads, but they don’t have to be paved. He said he wants to ensure emergency vehicles have access to the lots.
“It is up to (the RV park owner) to make sure their interior road system can handle emergency vehicles,” Bodley said. “The county won’t take them or maintain them or have anything to do with the infrastructure with the development.”
The amendments are also designed to make it easy for those in RVs to leave.
“If the RVer feels (the owner) is doing something that is unsafe, like blocking roads so an emergency vehicle might have trouble getting in, the RVer can be able to unhook and leave – be gone in an hour,” Bodley said.
The amendments prohibit permanent structures, such as storage sheds, on RV lots.
Bodley added the amendments focus on an RV park having an accessible entrance road, adequate drainage and approval from the health department and utilities and meeting requirements pertaining to flood zones.
The amendments require that recreational vehicles at the parks must be temporary living quarters, fully licensed and road-ready. They must have wheels attached and be resting on the unit’s wheels or a jacking system.
“The RV must have no permanently attached connections, structures or additions,” Bodley said.
The amendments also place a 400-square-foot size limit on RVs, which should be plenty of room, Bodley said.
According to campergrid.com, Class A RVs – the largest in size – have an average square footage of about 300 square feet.
Park owners will face a $1,000 fine per lot for every 30 days they are in violation of the regulations.
Bodley said his office has received several calls in the past year from people interested in establishing RV parks.
He said he “wouldn’t be surprised if we have more than one RV park owner in the county breaking ground before the end of this year.”
The manager of the Mountain Breeze RV Park in Morgan City said he favors the commission setting up guidelines for the county and issuing fines to those out of compliance. Mountain Breeze has 45 lots, and 10 are dedicated to stays of 10 or fewer nights.
Kv’s RV Park near Hartselle is considered the only other RV park in the county. The amendments don’t affect parks in municipalities, such as Point Mallard or Quail Creek Resort.
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark, who made the motion to approve the new rules, said regulations were needed that were specific to RV parks.
“We only had regulations for residential subdivisions, which included mobile home parks, and those really shouldn’t apply to a campground or RV park,” he said. “I know (Bodley) worked a few months on putting together a good set of regulations.
“We’re not looking to overregulate. These are common sense things that shouldn’t be too hard to comply with.”
In other business, the commission:
• Approved the purchase of a 2022 half-ton pickup for District 3 for $48,676 from Lynn Layton Chevrolet of Decatur. Champion Chevrolet of Athens and Mitch Smith Chevrolet of Cullman did not submit bids.
• Accepted a bid from IVM Solutions Roadside Inc. of Auburn for $40 a mile for roadside vegetation management in District 3. Chem Pro Services of Daphne submitted a bid of $49.89 a mile.
• Adopted a resolution allowing the sheriff’s office to apply for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Project Lifesaver International grant to fund wandering prevention programs and other public safety initiatives designed to protect individuals with dementia-related illnesses. The grant application is for $6,000 and awarded in the spring and fall of each year.