“We need to get together again,” said commission chairman Martin Montez. He suggested a workshop session and commission member Jody Alaniz made a motion calling for it.
The meeting was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, exactly a week after the first meeting held to discuss the subject.
The commission heard from three investors who were either in the process of building new RV facilities or who were thinking of doing so.
Commissioners also heard from several residents who were opposed to seeing RV parks built in their neighborhoods.
“I’m not against your park or your investment,” Ellwood Terrace homeowner Glenn Slayton told Amistad RV Park developer Diana Ensley. “I’m against it being in our neighborhood.”
Slayton explained that the park is being built on property just north of where he owns several houses as investments. He also expressed opposition to plans to open two dead-end streets in the Ellwood area that would allow access to the RV park for vehicles traveling through his subdivision.
Earlier, Ensley described the steps she had taken to assure that she was investing in a part of the city where her 55-space park could be legally built. She said she was told at every turn that she was following local ordinances involving RV parks.
Ensley said she plans to have green areas, state-of-the art drainage structures, permanent buildings to house offices and recreational facilities.
She said she sat down with city staff members, including Building Inspector Lanny Holland, and realtors to discuss all possible restrictions to building the facility on her almost 23 acres east of Archer Street.
Ensley obtained a building permit for the project on Jan. 6, and on Jan. 16 work started on the concrete slabs for the permanent buildings.
On Jan. 20 her utility permit was issued and on Jan. 25 she received a letter from City Manager Tom Ginter saying to stop work on the project.
“I have complied with all requirements,” Ensley said. “I have invested several hundred thousand dollars in the park.”
“I plan to live on the site myself and manage the park,” Ensley continued.
She said a facility like Amistad would not only attract oil field workers from the Eagle Ford Shale formation north of the county but would also bring in winter Texans, hunters and other visitors who would shop in local stores and pay sales taxes.
“I would like for you to allow me to get back to work and build my RV park,” Ensley said.
Corpus Christi attorney Don Jones, who was representing Ensley, told commissioners that his client is not a wealthy woman. He said if she loses the money she has invested, it will take a long time for her to recover.
“There are framed out buildings just sitting there,” Jones said.
Attorney Mike Appell spoke for Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Calvert, investors from Brenham who have bought the Tyler Place Mobile Home Park on South Tyler Street.
Appell said the Calverts have invested a quarter of a million dollars in the property since they bought it from a local man and have cleaned up the place and improved the grounds.
The attorney said the Calverts recently purchased some adjoining land where they have had new mobile home sites and added sites for RVs.
“They are asking and are desperate for a speedy resolution to this,” Appell implored.
Another land owner, Alma Garcia, said she had purchased some undeveloped land on South St. Mary’s Street and had plans of turning that property into an RV park. She said she pays a contractor to maintain the property monthly.
Garcia said she had contacted Holland about the project but had not sought a building permit yet.
“I’ve got quite a bit of money from my pocket invested in this,” Garcia told the commissioners. She said she was planning to build spaces for 20 RVs on the land and had gotten some engineering work done there to address drainage issues.
However, Slayton asked the developers if they would like to see an RV park being built next to their permanent homes and he reminded the commissioners that such facilities do adversely affect property values.
“I bought my property as an investment,” said Ellwood resident Wayne Evans. He chose that area because it looked like a nice place to raise a family.
“My property taxes have gone up and the value of my property has gone up,” Evans said.
Commissioners said one of the problems with the way the city ordinances are written concerning RV parks is that such parks are not addressed at all. It is not against the law to build RV parks within the city.
Evans reminded the commissioners that it is legal to own an RV and to park it within the city limits but it is not legal to live in the vehicle.
“The problem is the zoning,” Montez told those at the meeting. The projects were stopped because the zoning was wrong.
Montez then recommended a workshop session within a week to address the situation and come up with a recommendation for the City Council.
Ken Fields, a Corpus Christi attorney hired by the city to look into the zoning situation, told commissioners that there was nothing wrong with the city’s zoning ordinances.
“Anything except for residential can be built in an industrial district,” Fields said. RV parks can legally be built in industrial districts.
“The law says a property owner has an independent duty to look into these things and satisfy themselves that a zoning ordinance allows certain developments,” Fields told commissioners.
“It is not legal for a city council to allow somebody to violate the ordinance,” Fields continued.
Montez said the commission must visit the issue again and make a decision on what to recommend to the City Council. “But we need to do it as quickly as possible.”
Earlier, the commission voted to recommend that the council deny a request for a special use permit to allow an optical business to be operated at 1503 N. Adams St.
The commissioners did not think there was sufficient room at that location to provide the required, off-street parking.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.