Officials in Lee County, Fla., are considering invoking restrictions on RV parks including a proposal to phase out existing facilities, according to a report in the Naples News.
Owners of RV parks in the southwest coastal area, which suffered a heavy hit from Hurricane Charley last summer, say they are not against regulations designed to keep the popular travel trailers out of harm’s way. They even understand that county leaders may want to limit the future numbers of RVs.
But park owners don’t want to be regulated out of business, as proposed in a recent meeting of the Lee County commissioners.
“Wow!” was the immediate reaction of Tamara Swan, manager of Citrus Park in Bonita Springs. “At one point in time we were 10% of Bonita. We’re almost 1,600 units in here, and that’s a big venture.”
Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah said that after last summer’s hurricanes it doesn’t make sense to allow new RV parks, or park expansions, in areas that are vulnerable.
Though during zoning hearings last month he had mentioned phasing out existing legal RV parks, he said he was interested only in prohibiting new ones, but expanded the proposed ban to include mobile home parks.
“It seems to be counter-productive to put people in harm’s way,” he said.
Judah and other commissioners also raised concerns over comparatively low property taxes the parks and mobile homes generate compared to more traditional homes. According to the meeting minutes, he said the county should consider a legal phasing out of existing RV parks.
“I’m not recommending phasing out,” said Mary Gibbs, county community development director. “It’s up to the board. I don’t know what they’re going to want to do.”
Gibbs said the tax issue comes from the fact RVs pay only tag fees instead of regular property taxes. Landowners who rent RV spaces do pay property taxes, but rather on land designated for parking lots and mobile homes.
The Red Coconut is the only RV park directly on the coast between Sarasota and Key West. In 2004 property taxes on the more than 300,000 square feet of land, valued for tax purposes at $4.5 million, were almost $84,000.
Citrus Park is 400 acres, with 968 RV lots and 1,600 total units. It was valued at $17.9 million in 2004, with property taxes totaling almost $335,000.