Trying to do the right thing by providing homeless RV dwellers a place to live puts the trailer park owner into conflict with West Longview (Wash.) city ordinances, reports TDN.com.
When Bonniejean Noblin lost her housing in July, and with nothing more than a duffle bag of clothes and her three cats, she found shelter at Fisher Island RV Park in West Longview.
Owner Leonard Kelly let her move into a trailer with no down payment, she said. The ceiling leaked, it didn’t have heat, and the stove wasn’t hooked up to power. But it was a home.
Last Friday, she and 14 other tenants learned they had five days to move their trailers because Kelly had nearly twice as many RVs on the site as his Cowlitz County permit allowed. County Building and Planning officials were concerned that the overcrowded park could cause a septic system failure, threaten residents’ health and pollute a wetland, which Kelly was filling illegally.
Kelly said he was trying to provide shelter for struggling people in the tight housing market.
“We just kept adding (trailers) and we kept adding, and we got in trouble. When you get three to seven calls a day from people begging for a place to stay, you try to do the right thing,” he told The Daily News.
The park was permitted for 30 spaces and a mobile home in 1996, and it was in compliance as recently as June 2017, Cowlitz County Building and Planning Deputy Director Ron Melin said Thursday.
Melin said he visited the park on Sept. 4 and found that Kelly had been digging up material in the Longview diking district right-of-way at one end of the site and moving it to the other side to make space for a park expansion. But he was dumping it in wetlands without a permit, a serious environmental violation for multiple agencies, Melin said. And Kelly didn’t have any county permits for the work, so Melin posted a “stop work order” that day.
That same day, Melin said he counted about 55 RVs in the park.
“In that location, they’re right next to a very complex wetland, so there’s the potential for them to overload their septic system. If that fails, not only is it going to be a bad situation health-wise for the people living there, but also for the environment,” Melin said.