OPINION – Property rights and overreaching government have been topics of discussion in Southern Utah for the past several months, from the standoff at the Bundy Ranch in nearby Bunkerville, (Nevada), to the City of St. George’s contempt for property rights with its code enforcement program, to the local primary election for county attorney and its discussion of public lands in our system of federalism.
But it turns out that our local Washington County Commissioners might be just as hostile to property rights as the federal government or any other government entity, as it quietly considers passing an amendment to county zoning ordinances which would prohibit private property owners from using their own properties on Kolob Mountain to park their camp and fifth wheel trailers on the mountain for the summer.
See proposed ordinance here: Proposed RV Ordinance Amendment
It appears that our Washington County Commissioners, ironically all Republicans, are proposing to create a new ordinance: Title 10, Chapter 13, Section 23 of the Washington County Code to prohibit use of a recreational vehicle, (specifically defined to include camp trailers and fifth wheel trailers), as “permanent living quarters” on Kolob Mountain and elsewhere in the county. The proposed ordinance considers a camp trailer to be used as “permanent living quarters” if it is used for more than ten consecutive nights, or for 21 nights in a 45-day period.
However, the proposal also presumes that any “night that a recreational vehicle is parked on a property that does not have a primary structure shall count as a night of occupancy.” In other words, as long as your trailer is parked on your own property, ten days are counted regardless of whether you sleep in your camp trailer or not. The county intends to order violators of the proposed ordinance to vacate within fourteen days, and if this is not obeyed, then violators are charged with a class-c misdemeanor and the county is empowered to impound the trailers.
The proposed ordinance can be boiled down to the idea that the county presumes to tell private property owners in a summer mountaintop retreat what they can and cannot park on their properties and for how long. The county’s proposal is abusive and hostile to private property rights, it should outrage the commissioners’ constituents, and it is certainly inconsistent with the principles of limited government that are so hollowly espoused by many of our Republican leaders.
As a Hurricane native whose family and friends have enjoyed the use of property on Kolob for multiple generations, I am deeply troubled that citizens, many of whom are my friends and family members who pull their camp and fifth wheel trailers to their properties for the summer to get away from the scorching summer heat, will now be prevented from doing so, at least without the worry of the County peering over their shoulders and counting how many days their camp trailers have been parked with the threat of criminal charges looming over their heads.
Meetings – open to the public
The Washington County Commission is holding a work meeting on this proposed ordinance at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, June 16, 2014, at the Washington County Administration Building.
And, according to the Washington County Commission’s meeting agenda, consideration of the proposed ordinance will be heard on the following day at the June 17, 2014, meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. at the County Administration Building.
Those of us who value our private property rights and wish to let our voices be heard before the County Commissioners should plan on attending.
Submitted by: Trevor C. Sanders, Hurricane, Utah
- Proposed RV Ordinance Amendment
- Public notice – work meeting June 16, 2014, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
- Public notice – commission meeting June 17, 2014, 4-5 p.m.
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