We are writing this letter in response to the article regarding whether an RV park should be classified as a subdivision.
First of all, we would like to thank the Northwest Alabamian and Chad Fell for their interest in this discussion and for all the time and research Mr. Fell did to present both sides of this issue to the public.
We also want to thank our county commissioners for all the hours they expend trying to make Winston County a better place to live. We know the job of county commissioner can be a thankless one and it seems like no matter what decision they make, someone will always disagree with them. We have known Mr. Everett and Mr. Hayes for many years and have actively supported their efforts to run for office. So it is difficult to raise this issue publicly, but we feel the long term consequences of their decision will have ramifications resulting in unwanted liability for Winston County and its citizens.
The current course of action by the commissioners on the classification of RV parks is contrary to the factual text of Winston County Subdivision Regulations and should be of concern to all the taxpaying homeowners in the county.
The question is: does an RV park meet the characteristics that define a subdivision as stated in the WCSR?
The WCSR are quite clear as to what constitutes a subdivision. The following criteria is being quoted directly from the existing WCSR:
Sec. 3-2-55 “Subdivision shall mean the division of a lot, tract or parcel of land into two (2) or more lots, plats, sites.) …”for the purpose to sell, lease or develop whether immediate or future.”…”A subdivision shall include all divisions of land involving a new street or a change in existing streets.” … “installation of public improvements.” ( i.e.,: water, sewer, gas, electric and roads are also a criteria which is used to categorize the development as a subdivision.)
The very act of developing multiple sites is the determinate factor for classifying an RV park as a subdivision.
Since it is clear that an RV park is a subdivision then our commissioners are mandated by the existing subdivision regulations to fully enforce all the provisions stated in these regulations.
The RV park currently being developed off County Road 16 has all the above elements in the subdivision regulations that are listed for a development to be classified as a subdivision. Yet there has been absolutely no contact between the developer and the county commission, nor has any coordination been made with the county engineer.
The commission chairman and county attorney have responded by quoting the state supreme court ruling stating that the commission CAN govern the development in unincorporated areas, but is not required to do so. This is true regarding the court ruling, but the WCSR that have been on the books since 1989, are much more demanding of our commissioners and uses the word “SHALL” rather than CAN.
Section 2-1 Commissioners SHALL govern each and every subdivision in all areas of Winston County.
Section 4-1 Developer SHALL furnish county engineer proposed improvements.
Developer and county engineer SHALL meet prior to any construction.
Section 5-1 Subdivision Plat SHALL be filed and approved by county commission.
Section 5-4-2 County Commission SHALL hold a public hearing on preliminary plat. Developers SHALL post 150% improvement bond.
In case there should be any doubt as to the meaning of the word SHALL, the regulations define it for us as meaning: ”ALWAYS MANDATORY.” So while the court is a little more lenient with who can govern developments, Winston County’s own subdivision regulations leave no doubt that the county commission is mandated to enforce these regulations on any and all multifamily developments. The regulations do not differentiate as to the type of development, whether houses, condos, apartments, office buildings or RV parks. They are all subdivisions and must follow the same guidelines for development.
It is vitally important for the subdivision regulations to be closely followed to ensure safe and competent construction of RV parks: roads, sewers, drainage, lighting, police and fire protection and density.
Each commissioner took an oath of office to uphold and enforce the rules and regulations of Winston County and therefore cannot choose which regulations to enforce and which ones to ignore.
We are asking the commissioners to re-examine their decision to ignore the development of RV parks and comply with the enforcement of the existing subdivision regulations on current and future development of RV parks. We might also suggest that concerned citizens write, email or call their commissioners and inquire as to why they don’t consider RV parks as subdivisions since their responses in the article are not entirely accurate.
Larry and Blythe Welton
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.