Zoning opportunities to transform your land into an RV Park

Article By:

Associate | Urban Planner

Every new development should meet the standards and regulations of the local municipality through the zoning codes and ordinances, and RV Parks are no different. One of the first steps to your new development should be to study the local zoning codes and regulations as part of the feasibility study of your project.

Understanding the purpose of the land through the zoning codes will also help determine the density of the development—in this case, a new RV Park—and the relationship to the surroundings, especially when adjacent to residential zones.

Zoning for an RV park: what you need to know

Although zoning codes are specific to each municipality and local governments establish different guidelines in every state, they still organize and regulate the built environment. No matter how big or small your development is, you must follow and adapt to them.

Some regulations may also depend on federal laws, which highlights why it's critical to become accustomed to the ordinance containing recreational vehicles and zoning codes.

Developers may, however, encounter different issues when reviewing the local ordinance, which allows a specific zone to develop a permitted or conditional use in either a commercial or residential zone. Conditional use applications can entail extra time and application processes for zoning changes or variances.  

Municipalities might also include a public consultation requirement as part of the application process. Nowadays, there are several tools to collect neighbour’s input and due to COVID-19 safety measures, including mail or online. It's critical to highlight the benefits and added value that your park will bring to the neighborhood such as enhancing the landscape and providing a wider array of services to the community.

The developer may also apply for a PUD (Planned Unit Development) if the site is large enough and falls outside the local governmental jurisdiction. A PUD will determine the specific characteristics of the development, independent of the municipal ordinance.

What kind of zoning does an RV park require?

Generally, you will find that RV Parks fall into the category of commercial or recreational, but more often, we can see residential zoning allowing mobile, tiny homes or RV as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), depending on what the municipal plan dictates.

California

The state of California acts as an excellent example concerning the variety and types of zoning required to set up an RV park and how regulations may vary from within the state itself.

Considered one of the best states for RV enthusiasts, some counties like Napa and Sacramento permit RVs as “caregiver dwellings” that allow houses on wheels in residential backyards for people who may need assistance. Other areas like Fresno City consider RVs backyard cottages that don’t require the owner or dweller to act as the caregiver.

Oregon

In other states like Oregon, specifically Portland, local regulations allow and support the construction of accessory dwelling units, tiny home communities and extending RV parks, making it one of the best places to own and operate one.

Colorado

In 2013, Walsenburg, Colorado, became the first town in the state to amend zoning regulations for RV parks between 120 and 600 square feet. In the mountain town of Durango, the local government approved an ordinance to allow ADUs in the East Animas City neighbourhood in 2014.

Florida

Florida possesses more progressive and recent initiatives where some counties may include redevelopment mixed-use districts and PUD as part of the zoning for RV parks. Other cities like Naples have designated residential areas already zoned for RVs and mobile homes. So, searching for such a plot will allow you to start using your RV as a residence without any separate permissions.

Conclusion

To guarantee a smooth and successful process, it remains essential to comply with the regulations established in the zoning code.

Still, it doesn't hurt to also take a further look into the sketch plan. Considerations on the amenities and the services that an RV Park can provide to the broader community, like day-use areas or storage, might bring good opportunities to develop the park and enhance its context.

RV parks, when built with the right amenities, can fetch a hefty return on investments. However, that will be a moot point if you can’t develop an RV park. So, spend adequate time researching the area's local zoning codes.

At the same time, it’s necessary to educate your guests about their share of responsibilities. Remember that violation of zoning regulations may result in heavy penalties for both parties, which is not something you would like to face.

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