Commissioners to send RV ordinance back to planning commission

Environmental health concerns raised

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners are sending the proposed RV ordinance back to the planning commission for further review of environmental concerns.

“After our last conversation about the RV ordinance and trying to get the language finalized, we heard a variety of concerns raised from the environmental health department, and I’m not sure why those concerns weren’t more thoroughly addressed through our process,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said Monday.

Environmental Health Services questioned county code-approved sewer connections, as well as requirements for potable water and disposal of wastewater when RVs are not hooked up to a septic system.

Those concerns have placed a hold on the consideration of adopting a proposed ordinance. County commissioners are looking for alternatives and a path forward that addresses the concerns without potential unwanted consequences.

“I don’t want to suddenly make a lot of people homeless,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said Monday.

Commissioner Bill Peach agreed, saying that even a fine for non-compliance with the ordinance could place undue stress and burden on an RV owner.

“I’m very interested in making sure we don’t displace people who become homeless,” Peach said.

“More realistically, I’m interested in preventing the stress that will incur when they are notified that they are not in compliance and financial penalties are imposed,” he said.

Jennifer Garcelon, County Environmental Health director, said no one wants to displace anyone, but the environmental issues need to be addressed.

“Our main concern is that folks have adequate wastewater disposal and adequate potable water supply if that’s what they do,” Garcelon said.

Janine Reed with Environmental Health Services said the department has received complaints about people living in RVs with improper dumping or waste or overflowing holding tanks.

In 2020, the department responded to 21 out of 44 complaints, and thus far in 2021, the department has responded to 26 complaints, it was reported.

Language in the proposed ordinance allows for private property owners to invite guests to stay on their property and use their water for family reunion-style events, as well as for hunting camps; the latter goes against county code, according to Environmental Health Specialist Sue Waldrip.

“Using your own private property for family gatherings is fine,” Waldrip said. “It (ordinance) went on to say something like hunting camps. People tend to interpret that as I will open up my property to whomever and they can camp here during hunting season, which requires an approved potable water supply if they’re going to supply water.

“You can’t just have people come and use your water and septic without having the approvals,” she added.

Ozias recommended scaling down the scope of the ordinance to address these environmental issues and passing it back to the planning commission Director Mary Ellen Winborn for re-working and for a review from environmental health.

“I am uncertain about the next steps until hearing back from her in greater detail,” Ozias said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].

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