By Lindsay Carey
Numerous residents attended a recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting for a public hearing to address their concerns regarding a new proposal, which will change how recreational vehicles (RVs) can be stored on private property in town.
The current policy requires that RVs be stored in the rear of the property and does not distinctly define what an RV is. The new proposal not only defines an RV, but it also will allow RVs to be stored in the side yard.
However, the text also includes further regulations including that there can only be one RV per property or that a RV must be registered by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. Another stipulation in the new text proposes that the RV be screened or buffered “to minimize the visual impact or any public right of way.” This stipulation in particular became the main topic of discussion during the meeting.
Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Paul Chaplinsky quoted a survey from the town’s website regarding the new text and shared its results at the meeting.
According to Chaplinsky, about 303 Southington residents took the poll. Chaplinsky shared the results by showing the differences between the 138 respondents that are RV owners and the 165 that are non-RV owners.
About 60 percent were not in favor of this new regulation, which would limit one RV per property, while non-RV owners were just about split.
The regulation, which will allow storage in both the side yard and the rear lot, did not get the approval of RV owners. About 66 percent of them said that they do not support this change, while 47 percent of non-RV owners also did not support the change.
The piece of the text that suggests there be screening or buffering to hide the RVs did not receive majority support from RV owners, however, 53 percent of non-RV owners were in favor of screening.
A good amount of the people at the meeting said that they didn’t think the poll was clear, which may have contributed to the votes turning out split on a majority of topics.
Chaplinksy admitted that it was a first try and that in the future the questions will be made clearer, however, he said that he was pleased that so many people responded to you.
During the Public Hearing, one of the few people to speak in favor of the proposed text was Southington resident Stan Malinowksi. He spoke in favor specifically to part that provides the screening from the sight of the neighbors and right of ways.
Malinowski said that he has lived in Southington for 20 years and over this time has had two different neighbors that store their RV and boats in clear sight.
“The boat is visible from my formal living room and my formal dining room. Every holiday I have to look at this boat,” said Malinowski.
He said that he believes it would be a nice visual improvement for the town if these vehicles were hidden.
The majority of those who spoke at the meeting did not share Malinowski’s opinion.
Paul Okstra said that he could understand if the screening or buffering was necessary for safety reasons, but to have regulations changed “just because somebody doesn’t want to look out their window and see his neighbor’s RV” seemed trivial to him.
Okstra also pointed out that it is ideal for RVs to be parked on gravel, because condensation from the grass can rust the vehicle quicker.
One of the non-RV owners in town spoke up in opposition to the new text. Resident Faith Sullivan said she has an RV parked right outside her bedroom window and that she doesn’t mind it. In fact, Sullivan said she likes the idea of families going on camping trips and noted that the new rules might force people to sell their vehicles or move.
“You start putting stipulations on the RVs and people are going to start getting rid of it, because you’ve taken the pleasure out of it and then Southington is going to start losing taxes,” said Sullivan.
Jerry Zimmerman, who has owned a camper in Southington for 46 years, suggested that RVs are being discriminated against.
“It sounds like you are purposely looking at trailers or motor homes and you’re not considering people that don’t mow their grass or cut their bushes in 40 years and their overgrown house,” said Zimmerman. “You’re not considering the five unregistered cars in a yard or commercial vehicles in the yard.”
Zoning officials decided to revisit the text of the proposed changes following the hearing.
By Lindsay Carey