Pipeline workers shun Albert Lea
Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 1999
For the most part, pipeline workers avoided Countryside Hills Mobile Home Park this weekend.
Monday, August 16, 1999
For the most part, pipeline workers avoided Countryside Hills Mobile Home Park this weekend. The park was expecting about 35 of the workers, now constructing a natural gas pipeline through the county, to park their RVs at the park this weekend.
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But because a city ordinance prohibits RV parking at manufactured home parks, most workers found other locations to park their RVs, said Ferril Feagin, a pipeline welder from Arkansas.
&uot;They (the city) chased them away,&uot; said Feagin, who is staying at the park with his family in their trailer. &uot;Most of the time, communities welcome everybody because of the money we spend.
&uot;When there’s 300 people coming into a town, they dump a lot of money,&uot; he added. &uot;Because camping parks close down, we need to park in mobile home parks. Having travel trailers is a way to keep our families together.
Feagin’s RV is one of nine RVs belonging to pipeline workers now parked at Countryside. He also plans to enroll his daughter in the school district. He said because of the ordinance, other pipeline families decided not to stay in Albert Lea; many are now staying in Austin and Clear Lake, Iowa and plan to commute to the county to work on the pipeline.
Countryside has asked the City Council to wave the ordinance, but if the council did wave enforcement and was challenged, it would lose any suit.
The park is also considered nonconforming because it doesn’t provide a storm shelter, has commercial uses on site and doesn’t include required landscape buffers.
The city can’t allow the expansion of nonconforming zoning, said City Planner Bob Graham, adding that the purpose of nonconforming zoning is to bring it into compliance.
Because of the zoning snafu, the city’s board of appeals will consider modifying the nonconforming clause to allow the RVs.
But that process could take another six weeks, Graham said.
Feagin said pipeline families still want to park at Countryside, but many will likely stay away until there’s a solution.