Holiday RV Park, College Station, Texas

More RV owners may soon be calling College Station, Texas, home after the city council voted last week to change an ordinance to allow RV parks in the city, the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported.

RV parks were not allowed in the city limits under the previous ordinance. The 5-1 vote will allow the owner of the city’s only existing such park to pursue expansion plans.

Holiday RV Park on Harvey Mitchell Parkway had been considered a non-conforming business and was allowed to operate but not expand.

Councilman Dennis Maloney was the sole vote against the change. He said changing the ordinance was a “huge mistake” that was common for people without much experience in planning and zoning.

“That’s what it looks like in 2010. In 2050, I don’t know what’s going to be there. But if we approve this ordinance I’ll guarantee you that there’s going to be a slum mobile home park there. That’s what will be there,” Maloney said.

The ordinance will require RV parks to be at least 10 acres, with no more than 120 days of site occupancy in a 12-month period. They are also required to provide a certain amount of recreation space and have standards for driveway widths.

Edsel Jones, the owner of Holiday RV Park, said he wants to expand to vacant property he owns adjacent to the business. He said the park provides two parking spaces per unit, and each pad site is 2,480 square feet.

Jones, who has owned the park since 1975, won a Brazos Beautiful Award three years ago.

“We feel like we could put it to use that it wouldn’t bother anybody else, you might say, like a nice residential area,” he said, describing how his facility is surrounded by a storage facility, water tanks, railroad tracks and an electrical distribution system.

“We know there’s a need in the community,” he said about RV parks, noting events centered around Texas A&M University.

College Station resident Sherry Ellison said an RV park is not appropriate next to homes. She expressed concerns about traffic, the size of the vehicles and how well things are maintained.

“We’re talking about something that can be allowed to be there four months, which is a semester, and unless someone complains, it could be there longer than that,” Ellison said.

Maloney praised Jones as a responsible owner, but said he won’t be the owner of the RV park forever.

“We’re talking about the land. The land doesn’t care about people,” he said.

Maloney said future development and code enforcement could pose problems at the site. And, he said, RV parks should provide at least six parking spaces per unit because of the student population. Though it may look nice now, he said, that may not always be the case.

Staff Planner Matt Robinson reminded council members that the proposal was for a change in the city ordinance and not about a particular piece of property, such as Jones’ business.

“This is to allow RV parks in the city itself,” he said.

But the reality, Maloney said, was that the discussion was all about Jones’ plans to expand.

City Attorney Harvey Cargill said a conditional use permit process as called for in the ordinance allows city officials to evaluate the proposed use in relation to existing conditions and surrounding uses. Cargill said it also requires that neighboring property owners be notified of any requests for this type use and allows them the opportunity to speak at a public hearing before such a use is approved.