County enforcing camper/RV ordinances

The Crestone Eagle • March, 2020

by Mary Lowers

According to Amber Wilson, Interim Land Use Administrator for Saguache County, a Land Use Code Enforcer will be actively enforcing the County Land Use Ordinance XIII.4.3 which mirrors a State regulation stating that people may only live in their RV or camper for two months on their property. This regulation, enacted by the Saguache County Board of Commissioners in August of 2018, states, “Recreational Vehicles (RV’s, campers, etc.) may only be occupied for a maximum total of sixty days during the construction process. Recreational Vehicles cannot be used as permanent residences.”

That sixty days is a one-time deal. It does not matter if you are still constructing your home after sixty days, the RV or camper must be gone or no longer serving as a residence. Wilson says,  “pulling off the property for a while and then moving back won’t work” to extend your time with a residential recreational vehicle on your property. The law says your recreational vehicle may only be a residence for sixty days even if you are still constructing your home.

State statute and County regulations are clear: “All residential structures must have approved sewage disposal systems installed before occupation may occur.” This holds true for recreational vehicles that are residences, ie. being lived in. This “safe sewage disposal/keep the water table clean issue” Wilson agrees is a prime motivation for enforcing the camper and RV ordinances. Further regulations allow the County to enforce ordinances stating that “land owners must provide for the removal of trash, rubbish, junk, garbage, inoperable vehicles, and appliances from lots and tracts of land lying in the unincorporated areas of Saguache County.”

Administrator Wilson told me that the Code Enforcer would first give someone thought to be in violation of these ordinances a warning and suggestion that they get into the Saguache County Land Use Office, 595 Third St. in Saguache to talk about how to come into compliance. Wilson said, “Doesn’t hurt to come in to our office.” There can be flexibility for someone coming into compliance. Wilson said “a variance is possible.”

When I asked Wilson why this sweep on camper and RV residents, she said the chief concern on the County’s part is public health and sanitation. She said that penalties for code violations could be a daily fine for each day out of compliance or whatever the judge sees fit. There are cases pending but Wilson said no one has left their property.