Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial that appeared in the Press of Atlantic City, N.J.


Bill Garpow

Bill Garpow

Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), (yes, there’s a national association for everything) wants to be perfectly clear:

He agrees that so-called “park model” campers, which are 400 square feet at their largest, are not designed to be year-round homes. And, in fact, New Jersey law clearly states that campgrounds cannot be full-time legal domiciles, says Garpow.

However, the current attempt by the state of New Jersey to allow people to use their park-model campers only six months of the year is arbitrary and foolish, says the head of the national association, which is based in Newnan, Ga. And he’s right. Why shouldn’t someone be able to enjoy their camper for a weekend in, say, late fall if they want to?

Furthermore, New Jersey is the only state in the nation to claim that the National Electric Code requires it to force campgrounds to close six months of the year because of the wiring in park-model campers. New Jersey, says Garpow, is “interpreting (the code) uniquely.”

There’s a surprise, huh?

Last year, the state Department of Community Affairs began imposing a six-month limit on how long campgrounds can be open; the six-month period starts on opening day of a particular campground.

The state says this is necessary because under the National Electric Code, the wiring in park models is not sufficient. Nonsense, say Garpow and others. They say the wiring, at least in newer models, is the same as in a single-family house.

So … what is the state up to?

Garpow says he isn’t sure. At best, the state is using a backhanded approach to ensure that campgrounds don’t become full-time, year-round residences for people — particularly, we suspect, for people who might send children to the local schools.

But the issue here is whether people who own park models should have access to them for weekend getaways or vacations whenever they want — or only when the state of New Jersey says they can.

The New Jersey Campground Owners Association, which is based in Middle Township, is fighting the new rules. A spokesman for the state Department of Community Affairs says it is willing to work with the association to come up with a reasonable solution.

May we suggest that the first step should be for the state to be honest about what it is hoping to accomplish and why?

If the issue is really campgrounds that morph into full-time residences more like trailer parks — and then, presumably, “overload” local services and schools without paying a “fair” share of taxes — then talk about that, rather than rely on some arbitrary and unique interpretation of the National Electric Code.