City news

The Abilene City Commission was presented ordinance to allow for an “accessory travel trailer park” at its study session on Monday.

If approved it would open the door for a RV park at the 24/7 Travel Store on north Buckeye Avenue.

“We had to clean up a messy ordinance,” said Dennis Kissinger, a consultant for the city. “This is a new tool without opening the door for everybody.”

The ordinance defines a “travel trailer park” as a campground for travel trailers, motor homes, camping trailers, recreational vehicles, camping tents and accessory service buildings and facilities for campgrounds.

The “accessory travel trailer park” is a type of travel trailer park consisting of a dedicated parking area not exceeding three acres, for travel trailers, motor homes, camping trailers and recreational vehicles, and their respective occupants and drivers, which parking area is operated as an accessory or secondary use to a primary allowed use dedicated to serving the traveling public 24 hours per day, 7 days per week on the same zoning lot.

Kissinger said most cities are dealing with similar issues surrounding RV parks.

“There will be cities looking at your ordiance as the model,” Kissinger said.

and Abilene’s new ordinance could be used as a model.

Kissingers said under the Conditional Use Permit the 24/7 Travel Store RV park will be limited to 22 parking places, limit the number of consecutive days to stay to seven and not to exceed 21 nights in a 12-month period and a lighted pedestrian path must be available to the travel service facility which must be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Another condition is to have a stormwater drainage study that includes a detention basin approved by the city engineer

Commissioner Chris Ostermann asked about the traffic flow as traffic concerns were voiced in the past.

Kissinger said traffic would be very limited.

Kissinger said Abilene’s current Section 9-11 has some vestiges of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, including archaic language and some unusual and difficult to interpret requirements.

“It clearly has not had a serious review for many years,” he said.

He recommended a full review be placed on the city’s 2020 work plan.

History

Kissinger provided the commission with background on the proposed RV park at 24/7.

In April 2017 Mark Augustine of Triplett Inc. made application for a Conditional Use Permit for an RV Park as part of a travel center. This was consistent with the plan approved by the city commission for the 24/7 Travel Center Community Improvement District (CID) project.

Among other proposed CID property improvements, the CID agreement included an “RV/camper overnight stay venue with electric, water and sewer hook-ups and related improvements” as part of the travel center project.

In May 2017 the planning commission and city commission unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit for this project as an “accessory use in the C-3 zoning district.”

The applicant, city staff, planning commission and city commission all were aware that this was not a traditional full travel trailer park but was much more limited as an accessory to the overall travel center use and approved it without concern. However, the staff report and CUP also recognized there are specific development standards for travel trailer parks in Section 9-11 of the zoning code.

Planning staff at that time (no longer with the city) mistakenly thought many of those 9-11 standards were not relevant to this project and could be waived, either by site plan approval or administratively.

Since the project was delayed and begun in the required one-year period, in 2019 a new application for a CUP was submitted so the project could proceed. City staff brought the CUP consideration to the planning commission in September 2019.

Since the only substantive change from 2017 was the size change from 14 to 22 RV spaces, staff thought the consideration would be routine, under the same reasoning as the 2017 planning staff report.

During and after that recent Planning Commission meeting, questions were raised about how and if Section 9-11 travel trailer park development standards could be waived for an “accessory use” “travel trailer park” the planning commission deferred action on the CUP until further information could be provided.

Following that meeting both the city attorney and Kissinger were asked by the city manager to review the matter related to waivers to 9-11 requirements.

“We both concluded the planning staff in 2017 was incorrect and that there was no general authority for waiving those development standards,” he said.

It was determined the proposed text amendment was the most appropriate avenue to address the matter, Kissinger said in his report.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Evolution

Kissinger said the while ordinances have often not evolved, keeping the one size fits all approach, the use of RV’s have changed.

Owners of RVs may be full-time RV living with no other home, season RV living, vacationers, short-term travelers staying a night or two or temporary employees.

In Dickinson, Geary, and Saline Counties along I-70 overnight parking occurs at: A large KOA campground outside Salina City limits; The Covered Wagon RV Resort in Abilene; The Four Seasons RV Park near Enterprise; The Chapman Creek RV Park; The Owls Nest Campground in or near Junction City; A Budget Hotel/RV Park in Junction City; some travel centers/truck stops; KDOT rest areas; Walmart or other large commercial parking lots.

Also, city, state, or Corps of Engineers campgrounds are available. In addition, RV parking is allowed at some county even centers or fair areas when events are held at such places as Webster Conference Center in Saline County, or Greyhound Park areas in Dickinson County.

Kissinger said none of these RV overnight parking nor campground areas listed above would likely meet Abilene’s current 9-11 standards.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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