Planning commission reverses decision on Great Cacapon trailer
Vernon and Doris Miller appeared before the Planning Commission to appeal a decision made at the September meeting that denied a request for a waiver of the mobile home park requirements to add a second rental trailer to a small lot in Great Cacapon.
The request for the permit was denied because of the size of the lot, .94 acres, and the lack of a public water system. The lot does have public sewer.
The Millers argued that when they purchased the lot, it contained the two trailers. A 1960 model trailer in bad shape was removed several years ago. Since the purchase of the property, the county’s subdivision ordinance changed.
Doris Miller asked, “If it worked back then, why won’t it work now?”
The ordinance now stipulates that a trailer not connected to a public water system must be on a lot size of one acre or more.
The trailers are served by a private water system consisting of a well, holding tank and separate water taps.
“There have never been any complaints from tenants or any problems with the water system,” Vernon Miller said.
Commission members questioned the Millers and county planner Alma Gorse about access to the property, whether the property was within the hundred year flood plain and the state water system regulations.
Gorse said the property was on the edge of the flood plain. The
state requirement for being managed as a public water system was 25
residences or more. The roadway into the property is 14 feet wide
and by ordinance is required to be 20 feet.
She said a separate waiver for the width of the roadway would be required if the appeal was granted and the foundation for the trailer would have to conform to storm water management requirements.
Commissioner Wayne Omps argued in favor of granting the appeal and waiver because the second trailer was there before, the public sewer is there and the lot had not been subdivided.
“Does it meet the letter of the ordinance? No. Does it meet the intent of the ordinance? I think yes,” Omps said.
Setting a precedent?
Commissioner Amy Lane asked if granting the appeal would set a bad precedent.
Omps said he didn’t believe so because every situation is different. “Every time we make a decision we are setting a precedent,” he said.
Soronen said he had visited the site and didn’t see any adverse affects on the neighborhood.
“I take note of the idea that this proposal has been in the newspaper twice and there have been no neighbors contacting the planning office or attending the meetings to express a concern about the proposal,” he said.
Other than the Millers and this reporter, no one from the public attended the meeting.
Vote and abstentions
Omps motioned to accept the appeal and grant the waiver to allow a second rental trailer on the lot. Carl Cowgill seconded the motion.
When the vote was called, four commissioners, Omps, Cowgill, Largent and Brian Carter voted to grant the appeal and waiver and four commissioners, Lane, Sue Parker Brenda Hutchinson, and Jim Hoyt abstained. There were no votes opposing the motion.
“We have a quorum. We have a majority voting yes. The motion carries,” Soronen said.
The fact that an equal number of voters abstained does not matter according to Robert’s Rules of Order, he said.
Soronen told the Millers they still have to apply for a waiver of the road width requirement before a building permit can be issued.
Parker and Lane both suggested the subdivision ordinance needed to be modified to include a grandfather clause and a limitation to the clause.
“The rationale for it (subdivision ordinance) did not withstand the challenge, and if it didn’t withstand the first challenge, then that suggests a flaw,” Parker said.