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Tolerance, please, for RVs, owners ask Gaston council

Gaston city officials agree that it’s against the rules to live in a recreational vehicle, but the official documents leave a lot of room for interpretation.

That’s why Gaston City Recorder Wenonah Blanchette said a discussion about recreational vehicles will be on the Feb. 11 council meeting agenda.

This issue of locals living in recreational vehicles has come up at several recent Gaston City Council meetings, but the city’s rules regarding the issue are quite vague.

Blanchette said the only place RVs are mentioned in Gaston’s codes is in the “definitions” section, which defines a dwelling unit as designed “for residential purposes” and states “a trailer or similar recreational vehicle is not a Dwelling Unit.”

Blanchette said the major problem with people using RVs as homes around town is the public health and safety concern, particularly related to proper disposal of water and sewage.

Discussions will delve into whether or not city leaders will eventually want create more specific rules and procedures regarding RVs and how to handle those who are using them as “dwelling units.”

During the January meeting, Gaston’s Screamin’ Chicken Diner owner Jeannette Noble asked the council if she could apply for a variance that would temporarily allow her to continue to live in her recreational vehicle next to the diner building. Noble said she and her husband moved into their RV because of the long hours they’ve been working for the last year and a half trying to make the diner a success. They’re planning to build an apartment above the restaurant and planning to live in the RV for about another six months, she said. The council agreed to accept her application for review.

An RV is not permitted in any zone due to the definition of a dwelling unit, said Blanchette.

Last fall, Billie Trussell addressed the council after someone complained about the RV he has parked on his Gaston property, the gravel lot on Front Street across from City Hall.

Trussell said he thought the typical RV rule does not apply to property that is zoned commercial or industrial. Trussell said he has a residence in Forest Grove but sometimes stays in his Gaston RV —- including at least one time he stayed about a month —- while work is being done at his lot there. One time, for example, an electric pole was being installed. Another time the lot was getting set up for city water. He’s also having a second driveway put in.

The RV “doesn’t threaten public health and safety,” said Trussell, who disposes of the little wastewater and sewage that accumulates from his short stays in Gaston at the Elks Lodge in Forest Grove. In addition, he said, it’s his property and he doesn’t want to pay to store the RV somewhere else.

Trussell plans to build a small, one-story office building on his land that he’ll rent out, hopefully by spring of 2016. He’ll want to be there while this comes to fruition, he said.

Election by bag

An attempted lottery-style election fell through last month, leaving the Gaston City Council still short one councilor. Gaston City Recorder Wenonah Blanchette drew names out of a cloth lunch bag at the council’s January meeting to determine which of the five people who received two write-in votes each on the November ballot would sit on the council.

David Gray’s name was drawn, but Gray was later disqualified when Blanchette later determined he was not registered to vote in Gaston.

Of the other four, one was not interested, and two — Christin Jeffries and Ben Wiley — will come to the next Gaston City Council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 11, where councilors will ask them questions and could appoint one to the council that night if all goes well.

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