What might be the most contested change to the Sawyer County zoning ordinance in 2015 could be the definition for park model recreational vehicles (PMRVs), the Sawyer County Record reported.

PMRVs are technically recreational vehicles (RVs) with an axle underneath for transportation, but which look like a small seasonal cabin, including sloping roofs and windows with shutters.

The county’s ordinance does not define PMRVs. However, it does define the larger, less mobile “mobile home” as “Any structure manufactured or assembled prior to June 15, 1976, and originally designed to be capable of transportation by any motor vehicle . . . intended for occupancy as a year round residence. Mobile homes shall not be located in any zone district unless located in a mobile home park.”

PMRVs are all less than 400 square feet, allowing them, in part (along with the ability to be mobile) not to be considered a permanent dwelling under state statute and thus not be taxed as an improvement.

Park models were discussed at the Jan. 8 Town of Round Lake meeting at which the board considered removing 14 conditional-use restrictions placed on the Treeland Cottages Campground, including “no park model home.”

Owner Harold Treland argued the restriction placed his business at an economic disadvantage and under all industry definitions, PMRVs are an RV that should be allowed in a campground.

Others argued against allowing PMRVs in a campground, saying they are used as permanent structures and give the appearance of permanence, functioning as small municipal subdivisions, but not taxed like stick-built homes.

Sawyer County Zoning and Conservation Administrator Dale Olson said he would like to amend the county’s zoning ordinance to define park models separate from other RVs for the purpose of allowing regulation.

“We have to define them separately so if we want to regulate them separately, we can,” Olson told the Land, Water, and Forest Resources Committee meeting Feb. 11.

Olson’s attempt to define park models drew the attention of several (RV) campground and resort owners concerned that PMRVs could be restricted to a mobile home park.

Cheryl Treland, owner of Treeland Cottages, presented PMRV definitions from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Both definitions said PMRVs are designed for recreational use, temporary occupancy and do not improve the property value of the land they reside upon.

Part of the RVIA definition Treland read said, “Despite their creative outward appearance, PMRVs are indeed an RV that meets the essential RV purpose of temporary recreational living accommodations. Although they are easily less mobile than a travel trailer or fifth wheel, PMRVs provide such amenities as full-size appliances, bathrooms and bedrooms, all specifically designed for a campground setting.”

Treland also pointed out the economic significance of tourism to Sawyer County, bringing in, according to state estimates, $78.4 million in 2013 and providing jobs to over 900 in the county, $19 million-plus in income.

She, along with the owner of Boulder Lodge, Terry Conroy, said the PMVS offered the “average Joe” a way to have a lakefront experience because the average person cannot afford lakefront property.

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