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RVIA Issues ‘Bulletin’ on Park Trailer Standards

November 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association today (Nov. 2) issued a Standards News Bulletin to recreation park trailer manufacturers clarifying measurements for member companies building recreation park trailers, a number of which have recently joined Reston, Va.-based RVIA. The bulletin from the office of Bruce A. Hopkins, vice president of standards and education, states:

This Standards News Bulletin is intended to address the issues associated with measuring the size and calculating the square footage of a Recreation Park Trailer (RPTs).

RPTs built by RVIA members for sale in the U.S. must be 400 sq. ft. or less in gross trailer area. The RVIA position regarding what is included in the measurement will continue to be based on the “shadow rule.” This rule presumes that the square footage of any RPT or RV is based on the dimensions of a shadow cast by the unit at high noon with the roof removed…

When measuring the dimensions of the recreation park trailer to calculate the square footage, measurements must be taken on the exterior. Square footage includes all siding, corner trims, moldings, storage spaces, and areas enclosed by windows but not the roof overhang. This means bay windows are included regardless of their height or location. Porches, patios, decks, and enclosed door entries are not considered interior space and are not included in the square footage calculation…

To qualify as a porch, patio, or deck the area cannot be enclosed in any manner with the exception of guardrails and roof supports. Also the RPT must have an exterior finish material that makes the structure useable without the addition of the porch, patio, or deck.

Porches manufactured as an integral part of the RPT must also meet all applicable requirements in Chapter 5 of ANSI A119.5. Loft areas with a ceiling height of less than 5’0” are not considered as part of the square footage calculation… This means any loft floor areas with a ceiling height of 5’0” or greater must be added to the total square footage calculation. In some cases where the ceiling height of the loft varies from under 5 feet to over 5 feet, only that portion of the loft area(s) that exceeds 5 feet would need to be added to the calculation. If a park trailer contains a “second story” with a ceiling height of over 5’0” all square footage of the second story must be included in the calculation.

 

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Wyoming Park Owner Appeals Park Model Ban

April 30, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

After spending nearly two years trying to work with Teton County staff in northwest Wyoming to bring recreational park trailers 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 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.”

 

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Pinnacle Park Homes Posts ‘Steady’ 1st Quarter

March 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Pinnacle Park Homes, a manufacturer of park models and camping cabins, recently reported that sales have been steady through the first quarter. “We had a great start in January and we have not seen a slow-down yet,” said Andy Davis, sales manager for the Ochlocknee, Ga.-based company. Davis said that Pinnacle Park Homes had recently introduced a line of campground rental units that has been well received in the marketplace. “By offering an affordable cabin without sacrificing quality, we can meet the needs of campground owners everywhere,” he said. The company builds cedar/split log cabins and vinyl-sided park models. Both styles offer several floorplans and amenity packages. For more information on Pinnacle Park Homes visit www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.

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Jackson Hole, Wyo., Looks at Park Model Rules

January 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Teton County, Wyo., commissioners are slated to review rules today that would allow campground owners to bring recreational park trailers onto their land indefinitely.

The Jackson Hole Daily reported that since park models began showing up in the valley in 2010, the trailers have sparked debate about whether they should be considered permanent structures or mobile campground improvements.

Although the rules review by the commissioners comes after most campground owners in the valley already have been allowed to put the structures on their properties, the regulations could have an effect on new applications or attempts to bring more of the trailers onto existing campgrounds.

County officials are scheduled to take up the issue during a meeting that begins at 9 a.m. today (Jan. 3) at commissioners’ chambers.

The county’s current land-use rules do not address the trailers, an omission that has made it difficult for planners to regulate the structures as campground owners try to improve what they offer customers.

The hard-sided trailers are manufactured outside the county, then delivered to campgrounds, where they are attached to electrical and sewer hook-ups. Some offer full kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms with the comforts of home.

Since last year, county staff and elected officials have reviewed requests to bring the trailers onto campgrounds on a case-by-case basis.

County commissioners approved a request to bring 27 trailers onto the Snake River KOA and signed a settlement agreement that allowed Jackson Hole Campground to have 26 trailers. An application from the Buffalo Valley RV Resort still is pending.

According to Jackson Hole Daily, the new rules that county commissioners will review would create a special permitting process for the trailers.

Under the proposed rules, campground owners could use no more than 40% of their total number of campsites for park models. In addition, the total number of campsites, which includes RVs and tent sites, would be capped at 17 per acre.

Guests staying in recreational park trailers would not be able to spend more than 30 days in the trailer for any 90-day period.

In an attempt to stave off fractional ownership or time-share arrangements for the trailers, planning commissioners asked that some kind of stipulation be attached that requires all recreational trailers at a campground to be owned by a single entity.

The new rules also would require campground owners to submit annual monitoring reports about how the trailers are being used.

Planning commissioners recommended county commissioners approve the new regulations. Though only one member of the group voted against the rules, planning commissioners raised a host of questions about the units.

Several county commissioners have suggested the trailers should be regulated as structures, a designation that would force them to comply with additional safety and building rules.

A handful of valley residents also have questioned whether the trailers allow campground owners to offer lodging without having to deal with the same rules that apply to hotels.

 

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Garpow Announces Transition Plans for RPTIA

November 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Bill Garpow

The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) has begun a nationwide search for a new executive director, according to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management.

Current executive William “Bill” Garpow announced today (Nov. 30) that a tentative timeline for transition to retirement has been put in place. He said he will remain as executive director until a successor is hired and will help with training.

The RPTIA also may move its current office in Newnan, Ga., to Northern Indiana, where more than half of its members are based.

Garpow, 70, cited health reasons for his decision.

“As you may be aware, in late September I had extensive surgery performed at Wake Forest Medical Center that, thankfully, went very well. Though my doctors tell me that I can now consider myself as a 70-year-old cancer survivor, it was nonetheless a life-changing event that brought me to the realization that it was time for me to consider retirement,” he stated in an announcement.

“In talking with the RPTIA board regarding this change of my priorities, a tentative timeline for the transition was put in place. Plans are that I’ll continue as usual until the board retains its new director and then remain available to provide any needed training. In total, this process could take as much as two years,” he stated.

The salary will likely be close to six figures plus benefits to include a contribution toward health and life insurance as well as a possible matching funds retirement package, Garpow speculated, though not tying the RPTIA board to these terms.

Woodall’s Campground Management reported that Garpow has been RPTIA’s only executive director. He has been an integral member of the manufactured housing and RV industries since the 1960s. Due to his health, he was unable to attend this week’s National RV Trade Show for the first time in 40 years.

RPTIA is a non-profit trade association whose members are the manufacturers, suppliers and service firms producing park trailers. The association also represents allied associations whose members primarily represent the retailers, RV parks or resorts in the United States. RPTIA exists to unite all recognized segments of the industry so they may, in consort, have effective influence upon matters of public interest involving the betterment of the industry. The association members produce 90% of the park trailers built in the U.S.

Upon joining RPTIA, manufacturers are required to sign a pledge that they will build park trailers that conform with the A119.5 Standard.

The RPTIA was formed as an off-shoot of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

“Financially, RPTIA has a sound operating reserve and has made the necessary cuts to keep us in balance,” Garpow noted. “As such, we feel confident that the association will be able to operate until the economy improves even with the expected delays.”

The committee scheduled to meet on Jan. 11 will, in full confidence, review the résumes and proposals as part of the selection process, he said. At this meeting, they will choose three or four potential candidates for a subsequent face-to-face meeting. The final selection and resulting offer to the chosen candidate could be made in the spring.

Inquiries should be directed to Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or (770) 634-8500 (cell).

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Jackson Hole to Offer Upscale Park Models

May 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Upscale park model planned for Jackson Hole Campground

Upscale park model planned for Jackson Hole Campground

A new era in recreational park trailer (RPT) camping is coming to Teton County, Wyo., home to picturesque Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole Campground.

Campground owners Jamie Mackay and Tom Hedges are planning to bring 71 upscale park model trailers to their campground, starting June 15.

Mackay and Hedges have formed a manufacturing firm, Wheelhaus Inc., to build the trailers in nearby Alpine, Wyo., and transport them to their park, located in Wilson.

In an interview with Woodall’s Campground Management, Hedges, who is the partnership’s director of business development, explained that these upscale trailers are targeted for a new generation of campers who prefer “glamping” or glamorous camping to traditional camping in tents or even standard RVs.

The recreational park trailers would sit on sites currently designated for RVs. The trailers would either be parked permanently or for months at a time. Stays would be limited to 30 days.

“The idea is, a lot of companies are building RPTs, but no one is building high-end luxury,” he said. “This will be nature camping at its finest.”

The Details

They call their design “The Wedge.” The roofline starts low over the bedroom and builds to 15 feet in front with big glass windows, allowing guests to look right out at the Tetons. Some of the siding is made of reclaimed snow fences.

“We’ve got a full kitchen with custom countertops and cabinetry, hardwood floors, high-end Regency gas burning fireplaces with custom butcher block mantels and 41-inch HD TVs. The bedrooms host king-size beds and ‘his and her’ closets and the bathrooms feature antique granite flooring. Each unit will include a 10-foot deck in front and private campfire patio off the deck.”

Nightly rentals will start out at around $350, heading toward $550 by 2013, Hedges said.

“It’s our opinion campgrounds are going through an evolution; a lot of the traditional business models aren’t working quite as well,” he said, explaining the need to look outside the box.

The partners plan to begin major production of the high-end park models and make them available to other campgrounds nationwide. The units will sell for approximately $100,000, he estimated. Production could be moved to a new site to accommodate transportation of the finished units by rail, he added.

In the meantime, they have options to purchase four other unnamed campgrounds in the West. They plan to follow a similar business model at any additional parks they acquire.

The partners also plan to install high-end tents in what they call “The Garrison” at their campground for the 2012 season.

The owners expect 100% occupancy of their new park trailers from June through mid-September and 50% for the rest of the year. They’ll be open during the winter ski season.

‘Green Camping’ Initiative

Just before a hearing in May, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported, Mackay said the trailers are part of his new “Green Camping” initiative, a major component of the campground’s efforts to improve and evolve.

For example, use of the trailers would reduce fuel consumption by 687,635 gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 8,245 tons per year, according to a study of 506 random RV guests during summer 2010.

Additionally, Mackay said he aims to use 100% purchased wind power, and he plans to reclaim unnecessarily disturbed areas on the property by seeding or sodding with native grasses and to plant 100 new trees on the site.

“The trees will be placed mostly along the border of the property in a continued effort to shelter and privatize the property from adjacent properties and homes,” a release stated. “This will benefit both neighbors and guests alike.”

Related Projects in Jackson Hole

The Jackson Hole Campground is one of at least three parks in Teton County that propose to add park models. More than 100 park models in all are proposed for the Buffalo Valley RV Resort and as many as 17 have already been approved for the Snake River Canyon KOA. Click here to read a comprehensive study of the Buffalo Valley RV Resort’s plan, which has received a positive recommendation from the county plan staff.

Hedges and Mackay have yet to receive the county’s official blessing to move forward with their ambitious project, estimated to cost some $7 million. Neither do they have the OK to remain open year-round. But Hedges says he and his partner are undeterred.

Interior shot of high-end park model

Interior shot of high-end park model

“We feel this property may very well be the most attractive, high-end campground in the entire country,” Hedges said. “Our opinion is, this is a use by right. RPTs are in use all over the country. When the county asked us to go through a conditional use application, we said we would do it but consider it a use by right.

He continued, “It’s a very simple argument. Teton County tried to overcomplicate things. An RPT is defined as a recreational vehicle. They’re allowed in RV parks. We don’t see why we should be regulated.”

Hedges noted that the campground has operated on a year-round basis since at least the 1960s. “We have a zoning certification verification from the county approving that.”

Teton County States Its Case

The Teton County Plan Commission has OK’d plans for one of the campgrounds, Bud Chattham’s request for Snake River Canyon. Chattham got approval in mid-May for up to 17 park models, with restrictions. The units must be set back from the river and they must be for seasonal use only, according to Jeff Daugherty, county planning and development director.

The commission tabled a request from Buffalo Valley RV Resort owner Harry Washut and has yet to hear an appeal from a resident on Jackson Hole Campground before rendering its decision.

Washut proposes to put more than 100 park models in his 200-plus site park, located near the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Before acting on the Jackson Hole Campground’s plan, however, the county must first hear the appeal. A resident, Gail Jansen, appealed an earlier decision by Daugherty. Because of that appeal, it stays further action until it is resolved. That issue must be resolved within 30 days.

So, what’s the holdup?

County Says Park Models Have Greater Land Use Impact Than Traditional RVs

“We’re struggling what to call these things and from a land use how to classify them,” Daughterty said. “We’re calling them RVs, but they have a greater land use impact than a motorhome.”

“What we want to do is avoid creating de facto lodging. We have a lodging overlay zone here,” Daugherty said.

“Our commissioners are interested in testing the water, seeing how it works and then maybe welcoming requests later on,” he said.

Chattham agreed to seasonal restrictions for his new park models. But Mackey “is not enthusiastic about a seasonal restriction,” Daugherty said, acknowledging that it would stifle his cash flow during the shoulder seasons and off-season.

Daugherty said the county will not sit idly by if Mackay and Hedges flaunt the law. He told WCM he learned that the owners were bringing in the first shipments of park models before Memorial Day and beginning to set them up. He said he was sorry to learn that Mackay and Hedges were going forward without county OK.

“Initially the first volley rests with me,” Daugherty said about the next step. “I would bring an abatement action against him, saying he has been deemed in violation of land development regulations and he has a certain number of days to correct them. If he fails (to correct them), we go to district court where we can seek fines up to $750 per day per violation.”

Daugherty said Mackay is well aware of his options. Hedges agreed, adding that he and his partner are more than willing to work with the county to find a compromise so as to expedite their request.

Daugherty went on to say that the county has been diligent and is on schedule with all of its deadlines concerning the case. “I think he was waiting on Bud Chattham’s case to see what would happen,” Daugherty said.

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