Rough road for RV ordinance

GLADSTONE – While the future of Gladstone’s recreation vehicle parking ordinance is still uncertain, concerned residents, business owners, and city staff are all working towards developing solutions to the issue of RV storage.

The proposed ordinance is intended to address complaints received by the city that residents are blocking the flow of traffic with parked recreational vehicles and people are taking up seasonal residence in recreational vehicles parked on city streets.

However, coming to a decision on the ordinance has not been an easy road for the city with residents on both sides of the issue expressing concern over safety and property rights.

“I got the feeling that residents felt they were being told what to do on their property, but it wasn’t really the case or the intent,” said Commissioner Matt Gay. “So hopefully we can come to an amicable solution that takes care of the problem, because it’s a legitimate problem. It was brought up in 2008, it’s now brought up again so something needs to be done to correct that.”

A public forum was held on the recreational vehicle parking issue on Jan. 27, and on Feb. 10 the ordinance was introduced. A public hearing held March 10 drew dozens of concerned residents, but the ordinance was tabled at both the March 10 and March 24 meetings.

A second public forum was held Monday, and the ordinance has been sent back to subcommittee for revisions. Despite commissioners intending to vote on the ordinance at the April 28 meeting, city staff is doubtful more than a draft of the ordinance can be presented at that time.

“If we change it we need to set another public hearing – introduce it, set the public hearing, hold the public hearing – before it can be voted on,” said City Manager Darla Falcon.

While residents may be divided on how to best address the recreational vehicle parking issue, the commission believes residents acknowledge problems do exist that must be addressed.

“It was the impression that I got at the meeting tonight that even the folks that weren’t really happy with the ordinance as it’s written understand there’s got to be some kind of a regulation in place,” said Mayor Joe Maki, adding city staff could not address issues until there was an ordinance on the books.

At past commission meetings, commissioners discussed creating a city-run parking facility for residents’ RVs. At the meeting held March 24 commissioners encouraged the ordinance subcommittee to pursue more information about creating such a space despite an opinion from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) that the parking area would cause an increased liability to the city and require more man hours to operate.

During Monday night’s meeting, the commission moved to sell two lots of the Gladstone Industrial Park in a deal that could give residents a storage option without the city creating the facility itself.

Mike and Shannon Dutkavich, Gladstone residents and owners Lincoln Fair Storage, LLC in Escanaba, agreed to purchase the two lots for a total of $20,000 to be developed into a storage facility that would have the capability recreational vehicles.

“It’s a combination of indoor self-storage units and also outdoor RV storage, boat storage, trailer storage, stuff like that where customers could have their own individual space, their own individual lot, where they could bring their camper in and out as they chose,” said Mike Dutkavich.

The preliminary site plan includes 150 indoor storage units, between 80 and 100 outdoor storage spaces for trailers and recreational vehicles between 20 and 40 feet long, and an additional 20 to 24 covered storage spaces for trailers and recreational vehicles up up to 40 feet long. Recreation vehicle parking is expected to cost residents between $20 and $40 based on the size of the vehicle.