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MTC approves temporary RV variances

Jaynell Graham

Marlinton Town Council held a special meeting last Tuesday night to address the issue of a temporary variance to the town’s ordinance which currently restricts RV parking within town limits to 30 days per quarter. In its initial discussion of requests, it was noted that the variances would be for the duration of the pipeline project.

The influx of Atlantic Coast Pipeline workers to the county has resulted in a need for housing accommodation. Most workers travel with pipeline jobs, making RVs their home of choice.

Council member Don Morrison noted that most of the RVs moving in cost more than a lot of homes in the area.

Recorder B. J. Gudmundsson made a motion that council let the ordinance stand, as is, with no variances granted.

The motion died for lack of a second.

Council attorney Bob Martin provided a written memo as a guideline for the process moving forward:

First, council was to vote as to whether the variances would be allowed.

Second, which types of variances would be allowed.

Council was then to determine what conditions and/or rules need to be established – with a clear statement that a violation of the established rules would result in the permit for a variance being invalidated and immediately revoked.

The variances to be considered were:

1. Campgrounds, which would allow RV parking for longer than 30 days.

2. Privately owned lots that meet the square footage requirements.

3. Lots that are cleared of dilapidated buildings, which meet the requirements.

Council member Scott Gibb opened up the process with a motion to allow variances, seconded by Morrison.

After much discussion, Morrison, Sue Helton, Gibb and Norris Long voted in the affirmative, with Gudmundsson voting against the motion. Council member Adam Irvine was not present for the meeting.

Council then addressed the who, what, when and how of the issue.

Approval of the variances would be subject to certain criteria:

1. Requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

2. Only one RV hook-up will be allowed per residence address. This would prevent RVs from being set on the lawn of an existing residence.

3. A minimum and maximum number of RVs for a campground or park.

4. Minimum size lot required for each RV in a campground or park.

5. Space needed for vehicle parking.

6. Hookups would need to adhere to mandatory water, sewer and electric requirements as set forth by the town’s ordinance as well as adhering to guidelines in the Floodplain Ordinance.

7. Each site must meet requirements for garbage disposal.

8. Written agreements between the property and RV owners stating both will comply with all town and Floodplain ordinances, as well as guarantee that in the event of the threat of flooding, all RVs will immediately be moved to higher ground.

Martin noted that the burden of application and compliance is on the property owner.

Brian Tankersley, prior to the variances issue,  began working to establish an RV park on his property at the end of Second and Third avenues. He advised council that, by DNR rules, if you have two RVs on a property, it is considered a campground, and as such, becomes subject to the rules and regulations of the Public Health Department.

Mayor Sam Felton stated that he felt the town would benefit from the RV hookups – $500 for water; $350 for sewer; in addition to increased usage fees for the duration of the project.

In addition, Felton said the variance for dilapidated structures would give the town a window of opportunity, which would allow those property owners to tear down substandard houses, level the lots and utilize the already established water and sewer hookups to serve an RV. At the end of the pipeline project, the property owners would have a green space ready for new construction.

“This might be a pipedream,” Felton said with regard to the dilapidated properties, “but if three or four people get on board, that’s three or four properties that will be cleaned up.”

Gudmundsoon expressed her concern as to what will happen when the job is over and the town is left with empty RV parks.
Felton said the campgrounds could continue under the town’s original ordinance, with RVs allowed to be in place 30 days each quarter.

Gibb made a second motion to approve the three types of variances, which would require compliance with all Town of Marlinton and Floodplain ordinances.

Scott, Morrison, Long voted in the affirmative.

Helton and Gudmundsson voted against it.

Council will continue its work to establish written rules to govern the variances.

Felton noted that the Floodplain Ordinance “is someone else’s playbook.”

“There’s a lot of work to do to finalize this,” Morrison said, “but in the end, I think it will be worthwhile.

Felton asked the public to submit letters of concern to his office at 709 Second Avenue, Marlinton, WV 24954.

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