After spending nearly two years trying to work with Teton County staff in northwest Wyoming to bring recreational park trailers (RPT) onto his property, Buffalo Valley RV Resort Owner Harry Washut is taking a different approach.
On Thursday (April 26), attorneys representing Washut filed an appeal — hundreds of pages delivered in a box to the county clerk’s office — challenging the county’s ability to prevent him from bringing the trailers, also known as park models, onto his campground, the Jackson Hole Daily reported.
Representing Washut, attorneys David DeFazio and Melissa Owens said the trailers are similar to other recreational vehicles and therefore should be allowed on campgrounds without any special approval from county staff.
The two attorneys cited dozens of examples of planning staff saying recreational park trailers are similar to recreational vehicles, which are allowed at campgrounds. They also called out instances in which planning staff said recreational park trailers should not be regulated as structures and do not constitute a change in the way a campground is being operated.
Teton County Planning Director Jeff Daugherty is “arbitrarily and unreasonably attempting to interfere with Buffalo Valley’s property rights for reasons that are not clear,” DeFazio and Owens stated in the legal filing.
The two attorneys said planning staff are trying to institute regulations that are unnecessary and that will deny Washut’s basic rights as a property owner.
“The planning director is now attempting to prevent Buffalo Valley from using its own land, a campground, to let campers camp,” DeFazio and Owens said in the filings.
The appeal seeks to overturn a decision issued last month by Daugherty.
In February, Washut applied for a similar-use determination, roughly two months after county commissioners tentatively gave him approval to bring 27 recreational park trailers onto his campground. If it would have been approved, the similar-use request would have allowed Washut to use the trailers at his property without any special permission from county officials.
Daugherty, however, denied the request, saying recreational park trailers carry with them additional impacts that are not addressed by a similar use determination.
“A RPT is located on the property long-term and owned by the campground owners, unlike an RV, trailer, camper or tent brought to a campground by a guest,” Daugherty said in his March 28 response to Washut’s request.
“In addition, [recreational park trailers] use may create significant impacts on the land that RV use does not, including visual impacts, environmental impacts and septic impacts.
“Staff cannot determine that [recreational park trailer] use will not lower the protection afforded to the community without a full review of the site, permitted uses and possible impacts,” Daugherty said in his response to Washut’s request. “This has been staff’s position for the past three years.”
County staff already have allowed the trailers to be placed on two other campsites. Officials approved a special request from the Snake River KOA. Additionally, they signed a settlement agreement with the Jackson Hole Campground after its owner, Jamie Mackay, brought the units to the property illegally.
County officials recently approved a new set of rules to govern the use of the trailers. The rules will only apply to new applications to bring the trailers to campgrounds.
Washut’s application was the last one that would have been allowed under the previous approval system used for the trailers.