By Lindsay Carey
The Planning and Zoning Commission is proposing a new policy for the storage of recreational vehicles (RV) in Southington.
Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Paul Chaplinsky said that the changes to the RV storage policy in Southington are necessary because the current policy is “very light on wording.”
According to Chaplinsky, the current policy does not even define a RV. The proposed new text defines an RV as, “a portable vehicle built on a chassis, which can be towed, hauled or driven and primarily designed to be used as temporary living accommodations for travel, camping and recreational purposes, including but not limited to campers, travel trailers and motor homes but excluding mobile manufactured homes.”
The proposed text also includes some new regulations for RV owners in Southington.
RV owners are limited to one RV per property and must be registered with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles and cannot be used for human habitation.
However, the changes that are causing the most concern among RV owners are the new rules for storage.
The proposed text states that RVs can be stored on the side and rear yard only at least five feet from the property line. The policy goes even further by saying that storage must be “buffered, screened or located in such a way to minimize their visual impact from any public right of way.” In other words, RVs should be fenced off or covered by hedges so that they go unnoticed.
However, some RV owners in town are upset that the town would change the policy merely for aesthetic purposes.
“The only issue is visual, they don’t like the way they look,” said Janet Haverkampf, a Southington resident and owner of multiple RVs. “We are concerned about our property rights, because we do pay significant property taxes.”
Haverkampf is not the only Southington RV owner that is opposed to the new regulations, disabled veteran Mark Colk said he feels that he has already paid for the right to park his RV, as he wishes, on his property.
“I pay taxes on my RV and my home,” said Colk. “It’s not cheap.”
Colk said that after he bought his RV he paid $1,700 for new tires and then another $1,500 for an inspection to make sure the vehicle would be safe for his family.
“It’s not like it was given to me,” said Colk. “Yes it’s a luxury, but I’m willing to pay for it.”
Colk said there was a time when people could park their RV outside their homes for 20 years and people seemed to understand that it was something that was important to them and left it alone. He said he believes that the town is imposing on resident’s rights to their own property and inflicting harsh rules on people who have paid thousands of dollars to have an RV.
“What are we going to do next? Not allow people to park their cars on the street, because they don’t like the color?” asked Colk.
Residents like Haverkampf and Colk will be able to voice their opinions about the proposed text at the Public Hearing on October 7.
In the meantime, Chaplinsky suggested that the Planning and Zoning Commission solicit feedback from the public regarding the new policy with an online poll. The Commission agreed at their last meeting and the poll is currently running on Southington.org.
The poll is open to all Southington residents, not just RV owners and will remain open for a couple of weeks.
According to Chaplinsky, this is the first time the Planning and Zoning Commission has sought the opinion of the public using electronic media.
Chaplinsky said that he suggested the poll, because he believes they will be able to reach more people through the Internet.
Names and addresses will be required for the poll, so that they can prove that the feedback is coming from Southington residents.
However, after the data is verified, the names and address will be removed and no individual data will be reported when the information is read at the meeting.
According to Zoning Enforcement Officer Matt Reimondo, there have been five RV complaints within the past year. There are 500 RV owners in Southington.