The Lake Adventure Community Association (LACA) near Milford, Pa., won the right to place one-piece, 12-foot-wide recreational vehicles on lots in the community, following its successful lawsuit against Dingman Township.
The township plans to appeal the ruling, saying it is part of Lake Adventure’s effort to convert a campground into a second-home community, the Pike County Courier, Milford, reported.
Lake Adventure, on state Route 739, has for two years battled the township for refusing to issue permits for larger vehicles. The township ordinance defines a recreational vehicle as one that does not require a special highway moving permit. But in the Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 1, Judge Joseph F. Kameen said this section must be stricken from the ordinance.
The ordinance does allow recreational vehicles up to 400 square feet, and eight-foot-wide units with “slide-outs” that expand to 12 feet wide.
“The township must issue permits for any recreational vehicle up to 400 square feet even if it is a one-piece 12-foot-wide unit,” Lake Adventure attorney Tammy Clause told the Courier. “Judge Kameen ruled the township did something inappropriate and in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”
Dingman Township Solicitor John Klemeyer said the township has authorized an appeal of the decision.
“The issue at hand is LACA is trying to convert a campground into a second-home community because the 12-foot-wide units are marketed as homes for retired persons,” Klemeyer said. “It is suggested they be used for six months at a time, like those in a seasonal retirement community.”
He said a study is needed to determine how such units will affect Lake Adventure and surrounding communities. A 12-foot-wide, one-piece unit used as a retirement home will be occupied for six to eight months in a year, instead of the vacation home’s four to six weeks, he said. And this, he said, will have a negative impact on the environment.
“The sewage system and the water supply system have never worked properly,” said Klemeyer.
“LACA has spent a huge amount of money, but the systems are not fixed yet. New more heavily used units will make things worse. If there is an environmental problem, who will they come to? Certainly not the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), not Kameen. They’ll want to know what the township did to prevent it.”
Lake Adventure President Thomas Annunziata said the township has a 30-day appeal window. He hopes the ruling will be upheld and the differences between the community and the township will end.
Annunziata said the community is very happy with the way things turned out.
“I didn’t think the township had a right to restrict permits to place a 12-foot-wide unit in the community based on them needing a special road use permit,” he said.
Annunziata said Lake Adventure has been working diligently on rectifying problems with its wastewater, fresh water supply and electrical systems.
“We added a denitrification system to our sewage plant, and are establishing an above-ground water tank with new lines to equalize the fresh water supply pressure throughout the community,” he said.
Denitrification is used to remove nitrogen from the wastewater, which promotes plant growth in local streams, just as nitrogen is used in fertilizer to increase the growth of vegetation.
“And our electrical system is constantly being upgraded,” Annunziata said. “The original contractor used one trench for the three systems, which were laid directly on the underground surface. We are now using three separate trenches and laying the pipes on loose stone, which gives more flexibility to the systems. All the electrical is now in conduit, and there are no more direct burial cables being used.”
Township Supervisors Chairman Tom Mincer said Kameen’s decision seems at odds with the Common Law Courts’ previous decision, as well as his own.
“We are looking at the original intent for Lake Adventure, and it was to be a vacation recreational vehicle community and not a community where units are dropped off and left in place year around,” he said. “It is becoming more of a trailer park than a vacation place.”
He went on to say that Lake Adventure has improved its systems — but not enough.
“We have no animosity towards LACA,” Mincer said. “It is LACA that seems to be at odds with the township. It is our responsibility to have concerns for all the residents in Dingman, and this is the reason we have ordinances in place.”