Courtesy photo
The audience was packed into the commissioners chamber while residents and officials discussed recreational vehicle living last week. No decision was made.

Mineral County residents on both sides of the residential recreational vehicle living controversy showed up at the Feb. 20 meeting of the Mineral County Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The issue was placed on the agenda by Commissioner Garth Price after the Independent-News ran a story in the Jan. 31 edition regarding the regulations of living in RV’s within Mineral County.

Price explained that after two meetings with the Mineral County Regional Planning Commission prior to the adoption of the Mineral County Master Plan, Title 17 – that a conditional use permit (for those wanting to live in an RV while building another place of residence) was what was discussed. Price asked District Attorney Sean Rowe went the law was placed into effect regarding the permanent living in recreational vehicles.

“Well, in Mineral County…Mineral County has prohibited residency in a trailer since 1965,” he answered Price.

“So since 1965 it has been on the books and it hasn’t been enforced,” Price stated. Rowe stated that this particular regulation as not been regularly enforced since that time.

Commissioner Chris Hegg asked the commissioners if it was their pleasure not to “kick out” residents, who are living in these types of housing situations but instead, make them get a conditional use permit so that elderly and low income populations are not homeless.

Rowe explained that there are provisions within the original law from 1965 stating that those living on “mine sites” and “lumbering” are not affected. Another example would be those who are currently in the process of building or remodeling a home.

Price explained that he thought that this whole issue was brought about due to sanitation issues and making it legal for certain trailer parks to allow recreational vehicles to use their parks.

Hegg feels that conditional use permits would be the way to go so that it addresses all the needs of the county.

Building Inspector Mike Fontaine gave the commissioners a copy of the updated conditional use permit so that those applying for the permit to live in recreational vehicles will be able to follow the steps needed to apply.

Commissioner Christine Hoferer questioned the conditional use permit explaining that she has a lot, where family stays when in town and after how long of a stay does she need to come in front of the planning commission to get a conditional use permit.

“30 days,” Fontaine explained.

A lease agreement and affidavit of ownership would be needed from the owner of the property, Fontaine explained.

“Why does this go through the planning commission?” Hoferer asked. “This just seems like a very long process to me.”

Fontaine explained that it goes through the planning commission due to land use issues, Mineral County Master Plan as well as, state and federal laws. Some conditional use permits will come down to a case by case issue, Fontaine told the commissioners.

Rowe explained that the process from allows adjoining landowners the opportunity to have their voices heard at a public hearing.

“We have an issue we have to address,” Price explained for those who are living in an RV with limited incomes and the lack of affordable housing within the county.

“As elected officials, you are required to meet all the codes and ordinances. If you read through the 8.40.120 about waste and sewage disposal, you are giving people a year?” Sheri Samson asked the commissioners. “I see people at Walker Lake who don’t move their vehicles at all and they are doing it unsanitary, unregulated, using composting and things that are against state law. We’ve been fighting this for a year and at this point in time you guys are legally culpable. Now you are wanting to lenience to those who can’t comply with chapter 8 but you took an oath of office and many of you are elected, so you have ignored it so long that now you are trying double back and make it right for the people that are not in compliance.”

Samson feels that a balance needs to be found between those that pay taxes and are in compliance to those who are not.

“Health, safety, welfare and sanitation,” is her main concerns Samson said.

Erlene Iacovelli asked if she needs to sell her business and get rid of her RV if she is living properly on the land in which she pays taxes and brings income to the county.

Sandra Essenpries questioned the commissioners if a separation of those legally living in an RV can be separated from those who are not.

Mark Nixon with the Mineral County Regional Planning Commission stated that chapter 8 of the Mineral County Codes needs to be revisited.

Many residents in favor of recreational vehicle living and many residents against living in these types of homes voiced their opinion during the meeting but no decision was made by the commissioners.

For those who want a say in the matter, it will be reheard on Wednesday, March 7 at the next commissioner meeting at the courthouse.