After a year of dispute, the town of York, Maine, and Flagg’s RV Resort LLC have come to an agreement over new seasonal units moved into the York Beach camper park last spring.
Seacoastonline.com reported that under the agreement, the six park model units in question must be removed within 60 days. Flagg’s will then be allowed to replace the units with RVs that meet the town’s definition of a recreational vehicle.
The agreement allows Flagg’s to have RVs not to exceed 8 1/2 feet in width in travel mode. The wheels need to stay on the RV and they need to be capable of being transported without the assistance of a commercial truck, according to the consent judgment.
The consent judgment also allows, after application for a building permit, the installation or attachment of a “Florida room” or “add-a-room” as allowed in other campgrounds. Flagg’s also agrees to pay York $1,000 to cover town costs and attorney fees.
The consent judgment dismisses a pending action in York County Superior Court brought by Flagg’s after Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal issued the park a Notice of Violation and Order for Correction Action on June 28 that was upheld by the town Board of Appeals in September.
Flagg’s owner, Robert Moser, argued the six units that were “park models” were recognized in the industry as recreational vehicles. McDougal disagreed, saying they more closely resembled dwellings and were therefore not allowed in the park by town ordinance.
Moser is president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a company that owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. They’ve had no other problems with park models in other towns, he has said.
Last spring, Flagg’s told an estimated 10 seasonal residents of the park to move out their privately owned RVs to make way for the new units.
The owner of Flagg’s RV & Cottage Resort LLC in Maine’s York Beach wants to settle a lawsuit brought against the town for ordering six new, cottage-like park models removed from its grounds, according to Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal.
“I would hope that this could be settled in the next month or so,” McDougal said.
Seacoastonline.com reported that McDougal said he could release no further details, but if a settlement is reached it will go to the Board of Selectmen for approval.
Flagg’s owner Robert Moser said Monday (March 12) he knew his attorney, David Ordway of Saco, was working with the town on a settlement agreement. He referred further comment to Ordway, who could not be reached. Moser is president of Morgan RV Resorts LLC, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a company that owns numerous RV parks from Maine to Florida. They’ve had no other problems with park models in other towns, he has said.
Last spring, Flagg’s management told 10 RV owners in the park to remove their recreational vehicles to make way for the new six park models. One seasonal Flagg’s resident said he paid an estimated $5,000 a year to park his RV there, while the park models rent for an estimated $1,400 a week.
McDougal inspected the units and ruled they did not fit the definition of an RV by town ordinances because they, unlike street-legal RVs, need to be escorted as “wide loads” when in transit; do not have wheels underneath when parked; and have air conditioning condensers and propane gas tanks freestanding on concrete pads versus being attached as normally found on RVs.
Flagg’s took its case to York County Superior Court after the York Board of Appeals in September, and again in October, upheld McDougal’s June 28 Notice of Violation & Order for Corrective Action ordering the park models removed from the park. McDougal said the park models violated town ordinance density standards as the new units more closely resembled manufactured housing than recreational vehicles, as claimed by Flagg’s.
The June 28 town order said violations of the town’s zoning ordinance are subject to fines or $100 to $2,500 per day for each violation. It is unknown whether the potential settlement agreement is related to the fines that could be levied by McDougal should Flagg’s lose its case in superior court, the removal of the units, or both.
York was the first town known to have challenged the national RV industry trend of moving park models into camper parks. The park models are recognized in the industry and by state and federal standards as recreational vehicles, according to Moser.
Park models have become the trend in RV campgrounds nationwide, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
“Recreational vehicle parks have determined they can increase their cash flow and bottom line as a RV park if they do more rental use than just allowing people to bring in their own units,” Garpow said in July.
Contention continues between Lake Adventure Community Association and Dingman Township near Hawley, Pa., over allowing 12-foot wide park models. In the latest round, the Lake Adventure Community Association has filed appeals of the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision to the Court of Common Pleas of Pike County, the News Eagle, Hawley, reported.
On Jan. 5, 2012, Judge Dan Pellegrini, on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, issued a ruling which rejected various positions taken by Lake Adventure in opposition to Dingman Township’s Zoning Ordinance. Judge Pellegrini affirmed a previous decision that the Township Zoning Hearing Board is the proper place for a decision on the merits of the claims of Lake Adventure. Pellegrini further stated that those claims are without merit.
Lake Adventure issued a statement this past week noting that the community is pursuing all legal avenues to pursue the expansion and replacement of older RV park trailers with the new 12- foot wide park models.
“Lake Adventure cannot forgo its property owners’ legal rights” stated Tammy Clause, chief legal counsel for Lake Adventure. “There have been many misrepresentations about the Lake Adventure Community Association regarding the operations of Lake Adventure Community and the placement of 12-foot wide recreational vehicle park trailers which require clarification.”
According to the township, Lake Adventure takes the position that the township has no power to regulate what types of recreational vehicles could be placed within Dingman Township.
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Pinnacle Park Homes Inc., a park model and camping cabin manufacturer based in Ochlocknee, Ga., reported an increase in year-over-year sales in January.
According to a press release, this month’s sales have surpassed January totals from 2010 and 2011.
“While 2010 and 2011 were very good years for Pinnacle Park Homes, we can see 2012 being even better,” said Sales Manager Andy Davis. “We are continuing to add new floorplans that meet the needs of campground owners.”
Owner Randy Stewart Jr. added. “We have asked for input and have received many suggestions that have been implemented in our newest floorplans.”
Stewart said that numbers were boosted by a rise in destination camping. For more information on Pinnacle Park Homes call 866-574-5159 or visit www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.
The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) is surveying its 45 members on their opinion about reuniting with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Votes will be tallied the end of the month and the RPTIA board will go from there, RPTIA Executive Director William Garpow told Woodall’s Campground Management.
An affirmative vote would put the RPTIA into a state of suspension dependent upon subsequent actions by the RPTIA and RVIA boards, Garpow said.
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Tim Howard, founder and president of Thor Industries Inc.’s Breckenridge Division, a recreational park trailer builder in Nappanee, Ind., will retire Feb. 1.
Howard announced his retirement Wednesday (Jan. 5) in an e-mail to about 150 friends and business associates.
”I’ve been in the industry since 1977 in one way or the other,” Howard told RVBUSINESS.com. ”It’s wonderful to be able to go do things that I want to do. The industry has given me a wonderful 35 years and the opportunity to pursue other interests as I retire.”
Breckenridge National Sales Manager Denise Walsh will become general manager and Vice President Junior Doty will become vice president of operations.
”Both have years of experience at Breckenridge and they are the best in the business,” Howard said.
Howard, 57, founded Breckenridge in 1991 as a stand-alone division of Damon Corp. after a 10-year stint with Mallard Coach Corp. and shorter periods of employment with Coachmen Industries Inc. and Georgie Boy Manufacturing Inc.
At the time, Damon was owned by Don Pletcher, a well-known industry executive.
”The idea was to create an autonomous company within a company,” Howard said. ”They had their resources in place, which made the fundamentals of starting a new enterprise very smooth. They already had a design department, an accounting department and other things that helped us as a startup.”
Breckenridge, currently with about 100 employees, down from a high of around 200, operated as a Damon division until after Damon was acquired by Thor in 2003 and functioned as a unit of Thor Motor Coach until a couple of years ago when it became part of Thor’s Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
Howard, who sold his ownership stake in Breckenridge in 2003 when Thor purchased Damon, said he has no immediate plans in retirement other than to spend time with his wife, Judi, in their permanent home in Goshen, Ind., and summer home in St. Joseph, Mich.
”I have been involved in the community and local church and I want to pick and choose what I do,” Howard said.
He hasn’t ruled out a return to the RV industry. ”It could be fun helping some friends in the industry if they needed help,” he said. ”I would be interested if it would be fun.”
Acknowledging that the park trailer sector currently ”is not thriving,” Howard said that he delayed retirement longer than he might have because he didn’t want to leave Breckenridge in the lurch in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
”I’ve planned for a long time for this stage of my life,” he said. ”I didn’t want to retire when the industry was facing a full-blown hurricane. I chose this time to retire because the trajectory of the park model industry right now is very, very good. Everything is going in the right direction.”
Roger Faulkner, president of General Coach Canada, announced today the appointment of Heather Millar to the position of vice president, International Markets.
General Coach, a builder of park models and cabin trailers located in Hensall, Ontario, has undergone some major developments in the last year, inventing patent-pending shipping methods and designing products that meet a variety of international needs, including: resort lodging; actor trailers; disaster-recovery housing; humanitarian housing; and commercial facilities.
Faulkner said that Millar will be charged with developing and growing new marketing opportunities “from around the world.”
General Coach has already shipped large orders to England and China and experienced favorable response to the new line of portable housing from several other countries, including Grenada, Haiti and India.
Millar can be reached at 519-262-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frederic Lepitre and wife Chantal Theriault rented a condo when taking their first family vacation in Florida several years ago.
According to a report from the Fort Myers News-Press, it was comfortable, but not the ideal environment for the couple’s four active offspring, he said.
This week, the family from Quebec is ensconced in a 12-foot-by-33-foot park model trailer at the Naples/Marco KOA. It rents for $145 a night this time of year, and boasts a flat-screen TV, full kitchen, bunk beds — and separate master bedroom.
“Nobody wants to do primitive anymore,” said Ted Mangels, manager of the KOA off State Road 951, east of Marco Island.
The campground setting, with its swimming pool, shuffleboard and bicycle rentals makes it easier for Lepitre’s children, ages 13 to 17, to play outside.
“We don’t want to pull an RV here all the way from Canada,” Lepitre said. “That’s a 27- to 28-hour drive. And, it’s really good to have a cabin with a full bathroom.”
Like Lepitre and family, more people are spending weekends holidays and vacations in campgrounds. And, because not all guests own RVs or care to rough it in a tent, many commercial campgrounds are responding by purchasing and installing cabins and cottages with all the comforts of home.
More than one-third of the nation’s privately owned campgrounds offer upscale rental accommodations, according to Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
The trend includes independently owned campgrounds and some of the biggest chains in the country, including the Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America.
In south Lee County, the San Carlos RV Park stretching along Hurricane Bay has eight one- to three-bedroom manufactured homes available for rent. It used to have 19, “but we traded them out for big-rig sites,” said Carolyn Morrissette, who owns the park with her brother, Dave Kline. Those big rigs mainly are 40- to 45-foot-long motor homes that campers bring in for their stays.
For campgrounds in Florida, park model cabins are a win-win, according to Garpow: First, they attract snowbirds and vacationers during camping’s high season from December through mid-April.
And, when the weather gets hotter and more rainy, these cabins “extend the camping season into the summer, when Florida families go on weekend getaways,” said Garpow, a former Tampa resident who now lives in Georgia.
A growing number of seasonal Florida residents also are buying park model trailers to install on property they rent or purchase from an RV resort or campground.
Retail prices range from about $25,000 to $60,000, with an average in the mid-$40,000s, Garpow said.
A recreational park trailer with wheels is considered an RV if its area is less than 400 square feet. However, in Florida, bigger models are permissible in campgrounds if they are built to current hurricane wind codes, said Joe Follman, Ocala-based sales manager for Chariot Eagle Inc., a maker of park model homes.
Said Follman: “We’re seeing growth all over the state.”
RV Comfort Systems has introduced a new stand-alone, all-electric forced air heating system for park model trailers.
According to a press release, the new system does not require a gas furnace to be hooked inline with the electric heater. It has its own fan with cabinet and works with the RV Comfort System’s CheapHeat controller and electric heater. This system is UL certified and RVIA compliant in both the United States and Canada.
The system consists of a multi-position combination-ducted/plenum cabinet that allows the tri-stage heater element to be installed from either side so the system can be used in multiple locations. The press release stated that one of the product’s best features is that a trailer manufacturer is no longer required to place the furnace next to an outside wall for venting, which provides more flexibility in its floorplans.
RV Comfort Systems is based in Bothell, Wash., and is the OEM patent holder for the CheapHeat electric heating system for recreational vehicles. The company will be making its new system available for public purchase on Jan. 1. More information is available by calling 425-408-3140 or visiting www.rvcomfortsystems.com.
The Lake Adventure Community Association (LACA), representing a campsite development in Milford, Pa., is taking on the local township again with regard to placement of 12-foot-wide park models.
As reported by the Pike County Courier, in a recent statement to the press, the association said it has been requesting for the last year, that Dingman Township officials recognize one-piece 12-foot-wide recreational vehicle park trailers as a natural expansion of recreational vehicles for placement in Lake Adventure.
Since Lake Adventure’s inception in the early 1970’s, park models equipped with a full slideout have been placed in the community. Prior to 2010, Dingman Township did not require any placement permits for any type of recreational vehicle or recreational vehicle park trailer in Lake Adventure.
Despite what the release claims has been Lake Adventure’s best efforts to provide Dingman Township with voluminous and adequate documentation that one-piece 12-foot-wide recreational vehicles are now standard in the camping industry, and better for the community as a whole, Dingman Township continues to prevent the placement.
“As with the last instance, the latest news release from Lake Adventure Community Association misses the point,” according to a statement in response from the Dingman Township Supervisors.
“LACA has never applied for an amendment to its zoning/subdivision and land development approval to include these newer non-travel trailer types of units. They have been told repeatedly that this is the proper procedure and they refuse to do so. Although the township has attempted to negotiate LACA has not even responded to our letters and it is clear that this process has been abandoned by them.”