A Texas city effectively closed down a local RV park following a four-year court battle.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the city of Melissa sued to close Wildwood RV Campground in 2002, arguing it violated water, sewer and zoning ordinances.
Trial and appeals courts rejected park owner Kathleen Baird’s contention that the campground she had been operating since 1996 was legal. Facing the threat of city fines, Baird cleared the 20-space park this week.
“I have never broken the law here, and now I have cleaned it up,” she said. Baird is left with a 12-washer, 10-dryer laundromat and 0.66 acre of land.
With frontage on State Highway 5, less than a mile from the future City Hall and town center project, city officials say the site is prime for commercial development.
“The property has tremendous value and potential,” said City Administrator Douglas Box.
Mayor David Dorman agrees: “Frankly it’s worth more now than it was four years ago.”
But Baird said the park was a viable business that last year brought her more than $90,000. And it was taken by the city, she said, without compensation.
Dorman said it was an effort to remove an eyesore, shape the city’s growth and require compliance with rules that prohibit RVs at the site and limit the number of utility hookups.
Two years before the city contacted Baird, Dorman had suggested to fellow members of the Melissa Industrial Development Corp. board that they begin an aggressive effort to buy downtown property and resell the lots for homes and businesses.
Baird said she believes the crackdown was an attempt to force her to sell the land. And by removing the business, she said, the city has devalued property it could try to obtain through eminent domain.
The mayor said he has no intention of buying the property, although five years ago he joined a group of investors in purchasing almost 8 acres less than a half-mile from the trailer park.