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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Citizens challenge proposed changes in La Cygne's RV code

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

LA CYGNE – Over the past few months, the codes officer for the city of La Cygne has been diligent in enforcing the codes on the city’s books. And while some residents might think Allison Fox is doing a good job, there are others who don’t share those beliefs.

Complaints have appeared on Facebook, and others complain in private, but on Wednesday, Feb. 1, the La Cygne City Council had to field complaints from about a half dozen residents in person.

One of the residents was concerned that the codes officer was able to discern that one of the vehicles parked on her property had expired tags. But the rest were there to protest reports that the city was planning on requiring that residents pay for permits to park recreational vehicles (RVs) on their lots in the city.

Resident Cheryl Holman questioned why she received a letter from the city about an inoperative car in her driveway. She pointed out that she wasn’t the only one to have an untagged vehicle on her property.

She also said that there was another vehicle in a yard not very far from her that also didn’t have a current tag.

Holman also took issue with the how the codes officer had determined that the vehicle did not have a current tag. She said the codes officer should not be able to roam on her property uninvited.

However, a few minutes later in the meeting, Police Chief Tina Fenoughty told her that they were able to take a photo of the license plate from the street, and they also knew by the color of the sticker on the license plate that the license had not been renewed.

But most of the residents were there because of a proposal to require a permit for RVs parked in yards or driveways. At the Jan. 18, Fox suggested that by the city issuing permits, it would be easier to keep track of cases where people were living in RVs full time, a violation of city codes.

Mayor Debra Wilson told the audience that nothing had changed in the city’s codes regarding RVs and that any proposed changes were just being considered for passage. She also said that much of what the council has discussed was already in the codes passed by previous city councils.

City resident Pearl Callahan asked how much an RV permit would cost if the council decided to approve it.

“I’m sure it would be minimal,” Wilson said.

Leon Callahan told the council that they should not change the code because the campers on residential lots weren’t bothering anyone.

In a written report to the council Fox suggested an initial RV permit fee of $20 with a renewal fee of $10 annually. The report also suggested that a violation of code on RVs should result in the permit being pulled and the city requiring that the RV be stored outside of city limits.

The report also listed three companies that stored RVs for a rental fee. Fees ranged from $30 in La Cygne to $550 a month in the metro area.

Councilman Danny Curtis said he drove through the city and counted 35 RVs parked in yards, and most of them were in good shape. He said he was not a fan of imposing a permit fee.

He said that parking RVs on residential lots is something that has been going on for years, and punishing 35 homeowners to prevent a person from living in an RV was not a good idea.

He also took issue with the code requirements that RVs should be parked on the side of the house instead of in front and that they needed to be parked on gravel or concrete. He said he didn’t see parking an RV in the driveway was a nuisance.

Codes officer Fox said the code currently stipulates that RVs must be parked on gravel or concrete surfaces.

There was also some discussion about how Fox could tell if an RV was being used as a residence.

She said that if the RV was connected to electricity or its slide-outs were open, it was an indication that someone might be living there. Slide-outs are sections that can be pulled out to increase space inside the RV.

However, Pearl Callahan said that the manufacturer of her RV recommended storing the RV with the slide-out open.

Councilman Jerome Mitzner noted that on the list of proposed changes on RV regulations, there were only two items that weren’t already in the current code book.

“We can’t hold Allison’s feet to the fire if we take away the codes,” Mitzner said.

Councilman Keith Stoker agreed. “We need to enforce the ones that are in the book,” he said. “If it’s in the book, it needs to be enforced.”

Councilman David Brenneman said that the problem was the codes had been in the book for a long time, but they have not been enforced in the past.

Police Chief Tina Fenoughty noted that Fox had sent out about 40 letters about code violations in the last month.

“All she is doing is enforcing the codes that are in place,” she said.

And while Pearl Callahan was critical of the proposed changes in the RV codes, she said she supported the work that Fox was doing.

“When we drive through town, we’re very disappointed with what we’re seeing in our town,” she said. “It is just … it’s horrible.”

Callahan said the homes are in disrepair and the yards are cluttered. She added that people needed to step up and beautify the town.

“It’s not like it used to be,” she said.

In other matters, the council:

  • Voted to purchase a pump that feeds the clarifier in the water plant. Dan Nasalroad, public works superintendent, said he planned to install the new pump, take the old pump to be rebuilt, and use the rebuilt pump to replace a third pump, which would be rebuilt and kept as a backup. The cost of that project is about $43,000.

  • Approved a bid by American Fence Co. in Wichita to install just over 1,000 lineal feet of chainlink fence around the water treatment plant for almost $37,000. Nasalroad said the fencing was the final piece of the settling pond project, and only one bid was received.

  • Briefly discussed applying to Kansas Wildlife and Parks for a grant to build a splash pad next to the municipal swimming pool. If approved, KWP would reimburse 50% of the cost.

  • Approved paying a draw of about $289,000 to Nowak Construction on the sewer rehabilitation project.

  • Learned that it would cost $4,000 to survey and plat a lot the city owns. The council has been considering dividing the large lot at 602 N. Fifth St. into four residential lots that could be used to build new, moderately priced homes.

  • Discussed a proposal to prepay a portion of the city’s natural gas bill. City Clerk Jodi Wade last month informed the council of a proposal by the city’s gas supplier to reduce the charge on gas if the city prepaid for a portion of the gas it used during the year.

  • Went into a closed door session for nearly an hour to discuss trade secrets with representatives of a not-for-profit organization. Wade declined to name of the organization. Members of the organization that met with the council in the closed session were David Moll, Samantha Moll, Jolene Stuchlik, Darian Mendel, and Tina Medina.

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