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RV owners in Citrus County, Fla., may be allowed to buy the campground spaces where they park their rigs, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
In fact, the newspaper reported, the Citrus Planning and Development Review Board was “surprisingly receptive” to the idea.
In order for RV park site sales to become possible, officials in Citrus County, located north of Tampa, would have to change county regulations. Board members, who were urged by county planners to reject the request, have, instead, asked the planners to work with the attorney representing RV park owners to hash out details of the change.
Citrus is the only Florida county with a land development code that explicitly prohibits selling individual spaces. Historically, officials have feared RV users who owned spaces would be prone to building permanent structures such as brick barbecues and sheds, which could slowly evolve into home sites or mobile-home parks, which the county doesn’t want.
There are 1,870 RV spaces in Citrus County that could be affected, most of them in hurricane-prone areas.
Clark Stillwell, an Inverness, Fla., attorney representing a couple of RV park developers, is proposing the change. The developers, who also own their parks, say RV owners no longer want to rent spaces. They want to own, ensuring that they will have a place to return to, year after year.
Additionally, among other reasons, banks are more likely to lend to developers who unload individual spaces because they are more likely to pay off debts sooner.
By selling spaces, Stillwell argued, many run-down parks could be revitalized.
Citrus County planner Ian McDonald, however, worried that once people owned spaces, they’d be more likely to live there full time, despite rules that forbid RVers from residing in their spaces longer than 180 days.
“We already have anecdotal evidence that people are living full time in RV parks,” he said, noting that he was concerned the situation could get worse.
Additionally, McDonald said, the county needs to limit full-time homes along the Gulf of Mexico coast for the sake of public safety. He said owning spaces would make code enforcement’s job harder because ownership could be split among three different entities: a space owner, the RV park association and a developer.
Stillwell disagreed, saying a condominium-type arrangement, in which someone can own a space within common areas owned by the entire park, would allow the county to better enforce its rules. He said space owners would have to follow stringent RV park association deed restrictions, as well as county rules. If the county had problems, he said, officials could lean on more than one person to get things resolved.
As far as the county’s concerns that changing the rules would eventually lead to developers building on RV spaces, he said, rules could be drafted to make people realize that RV parks can never turn into full-time residences.
Planning board member Raymond Hughes said he has seen similar arrangements in Hilton Head, S.C. He told county planners and Stillwell to look across the state and find arrangements that work for RV park developers and for governments.
“There is a way to develop these RV condominium things that makes sense,” he said. “I’ve seen it work. I’m not sure this county wants to dismiss (the request) out of hand.”