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City officials to decide on RV park construction
by Gary Kent
Feb 17, 2012 | 1343 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — City planners are expected to vote Feb. 27 on whether or not to recommend that construction on RV parks within the city should be allowed to continue.

Members of the Beeville Planning Commission made that announcement following a workshop session Monday evening at City Hall.

About 20 property owners and investors filled the council chamber during the meeting, and commission members listened to comments from several of them.

Two recreational vehicle parks have been under construction in recent months following action by the city to allow their development.

But residents living in the Ellwood Terrace subdivision of the city began protesting the development of the Amistad RV Park east of North Archer Street. Those residents have complained that the RV park will adversely affect the value of their homes.

Commissioner Jody Alaniz was the first to speak during the session, saying in his opinion the two projects that are under construction, Amistad and the expansion of mobile home and RV spaces at a mobile home park on South Tyler Street, be allowed to continue.

“We need to redo our ordinance,” Alaniz said.

City Building Inspector Lanny Holland followed those comments by saying that inspections have been made at both locations, and the facilities have passed so far.

The inspector said the work on the facilities at 806 S. Tyler St. are almost 90 percent complete.

“I’ve been talking to people too,” said Commissioner Luis “Tiny” Longoria. He said he believes property owners living near the Tyler Street mobile home development have been aware for some time that they have been living next to a mobile home park. For that reason, Longoria said, that development should be allowed to continue.

But Longoria added that “I’m totally against the one on Archer.”

Holland defended the decision to allow construction on both properties, saying that Eagle Ford Shale oil field activity was creating a need for temporary housing options.

Holland said Ordinance 2180 was developed to address that need. The ordinance was prepared by the city staff and presented to the City Council, and the staff was told to “go ahead, get after it.”

“A public hearing was held to give the public a chance to comment,” Holland added. “At that point our permitting process was good.

Alaniz asked if issuing a permit for the construction of an RV park did not require action by the city’s planning and zoning commission, and Holland said, “That’s right.”

Holland said another ordinance addresses the construction of mobile home parks.

“I’m not very excited about flouting the laws again,” said Commissioner Patty Alexander.

“We have done this before,” Alexander continued. “If something was already started, we let it go ahead.”

Holland said it is not unusual for commercial operations to pop up within the city without authorization by the city. He said he noticed recently that a beauty shop had opened in a residential neighborhood.

“I think there’s an opportunity to nip this in the bud,” Alexander responded.

Holland reminded the commissioners that all property annexed into the city becomes zoned for R-1, residential use. To be developed for any other purpose, the land must be rezoned.

Don Jones, an attorney representing Amistad developer Diana Endsley, said his client and Gerald Calvert, who is developing the South Tyler Place property, had both taken steps to comply with the law.

“They already have a lot of money invested in those projects,” Jones said. He added that the owners also have a lot of money invested in their projects.

“This is a case in which these people are complying with the law,” Jones implored.

“To me, the law is real clear,” Ellwood Terrace property owner Glenn Slayton said. Recreational vehicles are not to be used for residential or business purposes.

“A permit was issued for something that didn’t fit the neighborhood,” Slayton told the commissioners.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Slayton continued. “I feel for those people.”

Slayton’s wife, Diane, then spoke and reminded commissioners that they had lived in their subdivision for 23 years.

She said she had collected the signatures of more than 40 area residents who were opposed to having the RV park in their neighborhood.

Commissioner Erie Head said that, at some point, the city has to rectify the problem being created by the permitting of the RV parks. “Beeville looks like it does for obvious reasons,” she said.

“Whatever we come up with will be a recommendation only,” said Commission Chairman Martin Montez. “The City Council will make the final decision.”

Endsley reminded the commissioners that she plans to have a wooded green belt between her project and the Ellwood Terrace homes.

But residents of the subdivision said they already can see the RV park property from their yards and kitchen windows.

“I want the neighbors to know I appreciate their concerns,” Endsley said, and she assured those at the meeting that she was doing everything she could to develop an attractive facility.

Additionally, Ellwood residents said they were opposed to Endsley’s plans to put the main entrance to the park on Lilly Street, a road that goes through the subdivision and now dead-ends on the Amistad property.

Endsley said it would cost between $85,000 and $90,000 to use the former railroad right of way as the main entrance to the facility, but she offered to do that if it would satisfy Elwood property owners.

“We can call it the Lilly Street RV Park, or we can call it the Lanny Holland RV Park,” Glenn Slayton said.

That brought a prompt response from Holland, who said, “You can just stop right there.”

When Head asked Holland how the problem happened, Holland responded that it was clear all along that the permit being issued was for an RV park.

“We’re going to have to go back to the ordinance itself and make some changes,” Montez then told the commissioners.

“I don’t think anyone on this board would have allowed this,” Head commented. “At the time we discussed this, we thought we had a pretty good deal.”

“The only thing we didn’t do was stipulate what an RV park was,” Holland said.

Ken Fields, an attorney representing the city on the matter, said there are a number of ways the city could address a zoning problem like the one created by the construction of the RV park. Putting one kind of zone in an area that already has been developed for another kind of property is called “spot zoning.”

“But there’s a problem with inconsistencies in spot zoning,” Fields said.

“Let’s say they go ahead and built those but nothing after that point,” City Manager Tom Ginter said of the two RV projects that have begun construction. “Is there a problem with non-conforming use?”

“I’m not sure what procedure could be followed to allow those and then say King’s X,” Fields answered. He suggested that the city could run into spot zoning problems.

“I’m just not sure how you get there from here,” the attorney said later.

Holland reminded the commissioners that if they look at the city map, “you’ll see a lot of spot zoning.”

Within minutes of that discussion, Montez adjourned the meeting and promised those present that the commission would make a final decision on a recommendation to the City Council at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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