RV Dealer Proposes Streamlining Campsite Regulations
By Rick Hiduk
Bradford County has run out of campsites, which have become home to many workers in gas-related industries over the past few years. This according to Steve Moore, owner of Moore’s RV Sales in Wysox Township. The business owner took a deeper look into the situation as a growing number of people were telling him that gas company and pipeline employees have been forced to stay in Tunkhannock and Montrose and in Nichols and Corning, NY, to retain jobs in central Bradford County.
“I don’t think that there’s anyplace left in the county to park an RV,” Moore told Bradford County Commissioners at their July 28 meeting. Moore’s concerns about the workers living so far from their worksites are two-fold: they work long hours and must drive long distances on country highways to be at work at 6 a.m., and they are spending money in surrounding areas that Moore would rather see them spend in Bradford County. He went on to cite additional benefits to expanding the number of local RV sites.
“It would be easier if we could keep them here in the county. They would buy their products and services here. I think that it will be win-win for the county…as a way for some more people to make money…and to alleviate some of the pressure on low-income housing,” said Moore.
The latter was a reference to reports that low-income county residents are being priced out of their apartments and mobile homes in favor of gas industry-related workers who are willing and able to pay more to live there. As for who might make some money if it were easier to establish temporary RV sites, Moore suggested that landowners with as few as two or three acres who have not directly benefited from the gas boom, might be able to set aside an acre or two for up to four RV trailers. The monthly rental for similar sites across the county currently ranges from $300 to $550, depending on the amenities included in the deal. “That’s enough to put a kid through college,” Moore remarked.
His initial research into the process indicated to that campground owners and individuals were getting tied up with at least three agencies, including the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Even the most determined applicants were finding the process to be very arduous and drawn out. “The (current) regulations make it cumbersome, and it needs to be done quickly,” said Moore.
Commissioner Doug McLinko offered to solicit assistance from Bradford County planning director Ray Stolinas to see what could be done to expedite the process.
“You are right about keeping money in our county,” McLinko said to Moore. He cautioned, however, that he would want to see some guidelines maintained to prevent such RV sites from becoming eyesores or creating sanitation issues. He also suggested that any such temporary campground owners, as well as existing RV site managers, conduct background checks on potential tenants. “They need to know who they are putting on the property,” he stated. “Common sense needs to prevail.”
Commissioner Mark Smith added that there are DEP regulations on setbacks and septic systems that would still come into play.
Moore agreed. “You can’t do this haphazardly, like a jigsaw puzzle,” he remarked. “It needs to be streamlined though.”
Since Moore’s proposal caught the public eye, the number of phone calls to him about challenges faced by others who have attempted to accommodate RVs have continued. A bed and breakfast operator in Nichols told him that her weeknight boarders willingly sleep in her garage on weekends to maintain their residency there while she accommodates weekend B&B guests who were booked well in advance. Moore knows of several seasonal campgrounds that will shut down for the winter, thus temporarily dislodging tenants who have stayed with them since they opened in April. “There’s all sorts of stories like these that keep popping up,” he stated.
In his meetings with Bradford County Sanitation and the Bradford County Planning Commission, Moore has learned that it might be easiest for interested landowners to apply for a one-acre subdivision that would permit up to four campers per site. The process begins with the sanitation department, but Clean and Green regulations, which vary from one location to another, remain a key factor in the approval of such a permit. Access roads and sanitary conditions are a big part of the equation too, but, according to Moore, the sanitation department and planning commissions are working to put together an information packet that would make the guidelines easier to understand.
Readers who would like to know more may contact Mary Neiley at Bradford County Sanitation at 570-268-1551.