Map shows the location of the Brown Dense oil formation that straddles southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Communities throughout the region are potential sites for RV parks as oil exploration expands. Map courtesy of Southwestern Energy

Conditional approval was granted Monday (May 21) for the creation of a recreational vehicle park in Magnolia, Ark.

The Magnolia Planning Commission voted 4-2 to approve a variance to city zoning regulations, allowing RV parks in R-2 residential zoning. It turns out that the city’s zoning regulations don’t specifically address RV parks, although mobile home parks are covered in detail, according to the Magnolia Reporter.

Concerns from neighbors and commissioners that the property owned by Donnie and Deborah Wilson might someday morph into a mobile home park prompted Commissioner Jamie Waller to propose several conditions for the variance.

The commission will require an 8-foot-high privacy fence to block the view of the RV park from neighboring homes. The park must be maintained to the standards for acceptance by the Good Sam Club, a national organization of RV owners that rates RV parks according to a set of standards for facility services, restrooms and showers, and visual appearance and environmental quality. Roads and pads must be surfaced with SB2-grade chat. The use of private power generators will be prohibited. The owners must have a representative living on-site. Mobile homes will be prohibited.

The commission will also make approval conditional on adequate width of streets in a final plat.

Commissioners Waller, Jerry Jones, Jeff White and Christine Durham voted for the variance. Acting Chairman Colin Talbot and Rose Biley voted against it. Les Kent abstained – he is an employee of Ray & Associates, which is representing the Wilsons as they plan to buy the property. Commission Chairman Wayne Truell and member Jeff Pieratt were absent.

Randy Ray with Ray and Associates will return to the commission at a later date with more detailed plans for the RV park, including the placement of fences, roads and pad sites.

The commission and interested members of the public spent more than an hour discussing the matter. The creation of RV parks may become a matter of major importance in Columbia County if the prospective Brown Dense oil play pans out – it could lead to hundreds or thousands of people moving into South Arkansas and North Louisiana on a temporary basis without adequate housing.

“We want to build a nice park,” Ray said. “We want all the neighbors around there to feel as comfortable as possible with it.”

The park will be on 12 acres on the north side of the road at the west end of West University. It will have 25-foot lot lines.

“The RVs are temporary in nature, and they are eight feet wide as opposed to 14- to-16 foot width of a mobile home,” Ray said. Most of the pads will be “pull through” sites that won’t require RV drivers to back up.

A laundry and restroom/shower area will be constructed for the use of park residents only.

“I think it will be a nice addition to Magnolia. There is a need in Magnolia for a nice RV park,” Ray said.