Arundel residents say ordinance preventing use of campers as homes intrudes on rights

Posted Oct. 17, 2013, at 5:20 p.m.

ARUNDEL, Maine — Arundel’s Camper Vehicle Ordinance will be placed on the November ballot despite opposition from residents. Selectmen spent the first half of their Oct.15 meeting answering questions from residents regarding the ordinance that will appear on their ballots this November.

Residents were not as eager as selectmen to see an ordinance be put in place for the regulation of camper trailers being stored on private property. Resident Christopher Lory indicated that he has neighbors with camper trailers.

“As long as they are paying taxes, it is not up to me how they use their land,” he said.

Resident Lorette Bernier also spoke in support of camper trailers being on a piece of property without an ordinance in place.

“I have a camper on my property and my son would have been out on the street if he didn’t live there. Why is an ordinance all of a sudden necessary?” Bernier asked.

After Selectman Velma Jones Hayes received complaints of an occupant of a camper-trailer disposing of waste on the ground and the town attempted to address the issue, it became apparent that there was not an ordinance in place for the regulation of recreational vehicles in town. Without an ordinance in place, selectmen are unable to address any issues regarding the use of camper trailers or other temporary recreational vehicles in the town.

“This is a health and safety issue for us now. The ordinance is about campers becoming permanent residences,” said Chairman Thomas Danylik.

Town Manager Todd Shea agreed.

“Campers are not intended for long-term use. Waste being dumped outside is a health and safety issue,” said Shea.

Town Clerk Simone Boissonneault also expressed concerns for long term residency in a camper trailer.

“Campers are not intended for long-term use, especially through the winter,” she said. “People may be using propane or a gas stove to heat the camper in the winter. That is a safety issue.”

If the new ordinance passes, temporary camper trailers and other similar mobile recreational vehicles — RVs, model park units, motor homes, etc. — that are placed on residential property would only be allowed to have occupancy for 30 days in a one-year period. Occupants would also be required to have access to facilities while residing in a recreational vehicle on private property.

Resident Bill Tracy said that he just faced a similar issue with the state of Maine.

“I just went through this process with the state. If the camper is registered, there can’t be a limit. If this passed, can the state override the decision?” asked Tracy.

Danylik said, “the state will override if necessary. They do it all the time.”

Resident Jack Reetz said he thought is made more sense to look into the state law a bit further.

“Let’s make sure we are not deliberately setting an ordinance that the state will just override,” he said.

Shea said he is confident in the selectmen’s decision to put the ordinance on the ballot next month.

“I will make a phone call tomorrow but I do not believe the 30-day limit is an issue,” he said.

Boissonneault pointed out that a town can often set local ordinances even stricter than the state.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/17/politics/arundel-residents-say-ordinance-preventing-use-of-campers-as-homes-intrudes-on-rights/ printed on August 28, 2014