RVs to stay at Countryside

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 1999

Mike Benedict

Workers building a natural gas pipeline through the county can now legally park their RV-type homes at Countryside Hills Mobile Home Park.

Friday, September 10, 1999

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Workers building a natural gas pipeline through the county can now legally park their RV-type homes at Countryside Hills Mobile Home Park.

The City Council had questioned if allowing the RVs into the park would increase the park’s nonconforming zoning status, but in a 5-2 Thursday decision it agreed with the Board of Zoning Appeals recommendation that the RVs wouldn’t increase the nonconforming status.

Albert Lea Mayor Marv Wangen and Councilor Ron Sorenson voted against the recommendation because they said the ordinance change is now permanent; the city can’t now restrict campers from parking their RVs at Countryside.

Both said the issue isn’t about whether the workers have homes, but to protect the concerns of permanent park residents and its neighbors.

&uot;If I had a conventional mobile home and I had new neighbors every day or so, I don’t know if I would like that,&uot; Wangen said. &uot;The more permanent type of mobile home owner wouldn’t like to see these next to them.&uot;

Sorenson said manufactured homes and RVs aren’t compatible in the same park.

He introduced a motion to deny the appeals board recommendation, but the motion didn’t receive a second, required before a vote.

&uot;It has nothing to do with the pipeliners,&uot; Sorenson said. &uot;They’re all excellent people. It’s what we will have to deal with five or 10 years from now.&uot;

While the appeals board set no number restrictions, the council limited the number of RVs parked at Countryside to 25. Pipeline workers can keep their present lots, but park owners must establish a section only for RVs by next summer. City staff will also work to bring the park into compliance with zoning requirements.

Misdemeanors and Tempers

City Manager Paul Sparks said city inspectors will begin citing the park for violations and plan to be at the park today.

If the park isn’t in compliance with a city code in a &uot;short period of time,&uot; owners will face misdemeanor violations, Sparks said, recommending 30 days.

The city manager said some violations include uncapped sewer lines, poor streets, a lack of a storm shelter and and buffer zones.

&uot;The place is run in a very sloppy bad manner,&uot; he said. &uot;They have allowed several violations of law. Either they will have to come into compliance, or they will go to court and explain why they’re not.&uot;

But Countryside Manager Richard Greer said park owners are working to bring the park into compliance. The current owners have owned the park since 1984, and Greer said he has received no letters from the city informing him of the violations.

&uot;It will take more than one summer to clean it up,&uot; Greer said.

&uot;Oh yes it will, or you will will end up in court,&uot; Sparks responded. &uot;That’s the way it is.&uot;

Colleen Ardnt, the park’s property manager, also said the owners need more time and want to work with city staff to bring the park into compliance

She said the park isn’t making money and the owners must meet mortgage payments.

&uot;The property has never produced anything,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s never made us any money.&uot;

The property manager asked the city to meet it &uot;halfway,&uot; but took issue with Sparks’ comments.

Ardnt said the council is &uot;bashing us over the head. I would like to address Mr. Sparks on a few issues he has under his collar. This is like the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe the city of Albert Lea should look at its own streets. I have been in this business for 11 years and have been all of the way to the Supreme Court.&uot;