A New Jersey proposal that would place stricter building and inspection guidelines on recreational park trailers is facing opposition in Cape May County, home of the most campsites in the state, according to The Press, Atlantic City.
The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has proposed new rules regarding “park model” trailers that require more durable structures designed to protect the health and safety of occupants.
Park models are recreational trailers designed to stay at campgrounds for extended periods of time, sometimes years.
Voters in Cape May County, where there are about 10,000 seasonal sites, passed a resolution last week opposing the state proposal.
The regulations are unnecessary and could put a serious and costly crimp in the camping and tourism industry, said Jay Otto, president of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association (NJCOA).
“It would destroy what the park trailer really is and would make it extremely more expensive,” Otto said. “This is a very devastating proposal.”
The regulations would make the trailers heavier and with less space indoors because of thicker walls needed to resist snow loads and more insulation to match energy codes, Otto said. They would also require electrical and other inspections.
Otto said the existing codes are accepted in other states across the county and they should remain in New Jersey. However, Otto said he’s confident the state will make changes to the existing proposal.
“We have to wait and see to what degrees they make the changes,” he said.
A public comment session on the proposed changes recently ended.
The DCA is reviewing the 19 comments it received, according to DCA spokesman Chris Donnelly. One of those comments was a form letter sent about 250 times, he said.
The rule would not apply retroactively to existing park model trailers, according to Donnelly.
“Camping is a big part of the tourism industry in Cape May County, more so than in all the other counties,” said Otto, whose organization is based in Middle Township. “With so many motel rooms closing up for condos, the camping is becoming more and more important in Cape May County because it’s really supporting the tourism industry.”
“We maintain the units were built for temporary recreation use in a campground,” Otto said. “If there are violations, they should come after those people violating it, not try to change the whole use.
For campground owners, seasonal campers are guaranteed income at the beginning of the year, Otto said. Unlike short-term campers, the seasonal ones who use park model trailers won’t be turned off by a spate of bad weather or a spike in gas prices, he said.
Park model sales are a big part of businesses at Ocean View Trailer Sales in Dennis Township, said John Turner, president. They make up about a half of sales.
“It certainly it would put a major crimp in the park model sales,” he said.