GULFPORT — If you're among the dozens of residents who enjoy making your way around the country in a recreational vehicle and you park the RV on your property, look for some changes down the highway.
In an attempt to clarify the code enforcement policy on storing RVs, the City Council voted unanimously last week to effectively restrict the length of a stored vehicle to 23 feet. But there are exceptions.
The ordinance defines a Class B RV as a single wheel rear axle, vanlike vehicle that can be used for day-to-day transportation. This includes camper and conversion vans. "Anything larger" than 23 feet "cannot realistically be used for day-to-day use."
"We've seen an increase in folks storing their RVs on property within the city," said Fred Metcalf, Gulfport's chief code enforcer. "Council wanted some clarification on what we will allow and what we won't."
While all stored RVs will require a permit, the most significant change to the ordinance, which won't go into effect until Jan. 2, addresses the storage of RVs longer than 23 feet. It also draws the line on turnover.
Those who currently have an RV stored on their property and have a permit from the city may apply for an exemption before Jan. 2 and receive a special permit. The exemption applies only to the current vehicle. If the owner replaces the vehicle, or if it's abandoned, the exemption is eliminated.
Metcalf expects some pushback. He suggests that anyone with questions should call his office.
"We want to make this as painless as possible for our residents," he added.
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In other news, the council approved a $3,300 raise for City Manager Jim O'Reilly, in addition to the 2 percent increase granted to all city staffers.
Also, the staff is now including specific reference to the city's human rights ordinance in all new contracts. Some residents and council members had raised concerns about the Boy Scouts of America's use of Scout Hall, a city-owned building, for meetings. The city could do nothing to challenge the national organization's anti-homosexual position (since altered to accept gay Scouts to age 18) unless a specific complaint had been filed. Including the antidiscrimination language in all new contracts is seen as a proactive move.