First reading conducted on new RV ordinance

February 15, 2013

Cline Shale oil development brings continued change to Sweetwater; action was taken to stay ahead of the activity at the February City Commission meeting

The Cline Shale oil development is slowly but surely making its way to Sweetwater, leading the city commissioners to approve some measures during their Tuesday meeting in order to stay ahead of the activity.
Approval was given to the first reading of an ordinance which will amend Chapter 19 of the city's Code of Ordinances entitled "Motor Vehicles and Traffic." Changes would be made in Article 6 ("Stopping, Standing and Parking"), Division 1 (Generally) of Chapter 19 by adding a variety of sections.
Section 19-170 would be entitled "Parking of Commercial Vehicles". The following section would deal with "parking of trailers; mobile recreation equipment on public property or streets", which would define a "mobile recreation equipment."
The next two new sections would deal with "parking adjacent to schools" and "parking prohibited on narrow streets," respectively. Thereafter, Sections 19-174 through 19-185 would become reserved for future amendments.
In addition, another change in Chapter 19 would be Article 9, Section 19-251, entitled "Junk vehicle defined," in which the city hopes to better define a junk vehicle.
Eddie Brown, the city manager of Sweetwater, stated that there has been a problem with the parking of semi-trucks, trailers, RVs and motorboats in residential streets, which are too narrow to accommodate the vehicles. And with the anticipation of the oil boom--notably an increase in traffic, this problem would continue and increase.
Thus, these type of vehicles either need to be placed in a driveway or on property but not on the street. Brown noted that this ordinance would prevent public safety issues and, after speaking with local authorities, could be enforced by the Sweetwater Police Department.
A 72 hour window--a three-day time period--would be the only time RVs would have to load and/or unload on the street. After that time, a penalty would be assessed.
While still being discussed, offenders could possibly face a $25 fine with the addition of court costs, totaling a $73 ticket which would be imposed on a daily basis.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerod Peek asked if portable basketball goals placed in the street could be included in the ordinance, but Brown stated that more feedback on the matter would need to be sought.
Just as Peek made the motion, Precinct 1 Commissioner Larry May stated that he felt the 72-hour period was not long enough. He posed a week-long deadline, in the instance of three-day weekends where families travel and reside in RVs while visiting relatives.
However, it was noted that technically, people are not allowed to stay in an RV in a residential area due to a local ordinance already in place--even though it is not strongly enforced. But when a violation letter is sent, the offender has ten days to be in compliance. In most cases, like the example given by Commissioner May, most RVs are no longer present.
With Peek's motion standing, May ended up seconding the motion for the 72-hour deadline. The item was then unanimously approved.
With the first reading finalized, the second reading of this ordinance will take place at the March meeting. Opposition on the matter is anticipated by the city, although Brown stated that city staff stands behind the ordinance.
In the meantime, the city is still conducting research in order to determine what constitutes an RV park. Action is expected to be taken on this issue once the findings are complete.
The other action item presented regarding economic growth was approval of a resolution from the city supporting SEED's (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) funding of the Bradford Lane/Lamar Street sewer line project.
As business development has grown and is expected to continue on Bradford Lane due to the Cline Shale--possibly through the establishment of hotels and man camps, the size of the project will need to increase. And according to the local government code, expenses from a group like SEED are allowed as long as the project is suitable for expansion.
Because the city believes that the project will enhance the town's economic development, Brown stated that SEED should fund the project and its development. A bid already obtained stands at around $118,000--well below the maximum price of $350,000.
Had the item not been approved, the alternate types of funding would have been from a raise of rates or the issuance of debts. Though Brown stated that the project was costly, he said it is necessary that the project be completed.
Toward the end of the meeting, a citizen voiced his appreciation on the city's vigilance in preparing for the changes that may come with the oil boom. He did, however, urge the city commission to also to take care of their existing assets, specifically Lake Sweetwater and Oak Creek Lake.

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