Small Kansas town has big plan that could set pattern of RV relief

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Looking to get your RV off the road for a few hours of shuteye? Don’t need a swimming pool? Don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for just a few hours of “parking”? You’ll be hard-pressed to fill those needs. Walmart parking lots have become the de facto overnight spots for many RVers needing this kind of respite, but local ordinances and pressure from established RV parks have shut out RVers from many Walmart stores. Not too many RV park owners are willing to give any kind of a break to the traveler who just needs a few hours off the road, some citing the gigantic expense of developing a full-fledged RV park.

Enter the Abilene, Kansas, city commission. No, the “city dads” aren’t planning on throwing out the welcome mat in some kind of city-owned overnight spot, but one of their proposed ordinances might just provide a model for communities across the country to follow in ways that could benefit both RVers and small businesses.

Abilene, Kansas: A little town with a big plan. Photo: Icahabod on wikimedia.org.

The commissioners in Abilene, a little city of less than 6,500 souls, has a need. Plenty of RVers come through the community and yes, indeed, some of them need a place to hang up the keys overnight and get that sleep needed for happy – and safe – continuing travels. But existing ordinances were “messy,” says a city consultant. Something needed to be done to make the process of getting something going easier.

Abilene’s wise commissioners have redefined just what a travel trailer park is: “A campground for travel trailers, motor homes, camping trailers, recreational vehicles, camping tents and accessory service buildings and facilities for campgrounds.” Sounds like an RV park, right? Now here’s another definition: “Accessory travel trailer park.” What is it? “A dedicated parking area not exceeding three acres, for travel trailers, motor homes, camping trailers and recreational vehicles, and their respective occupants and drivers, which parking area is operated as an accessory or secondary use to a primary allowed use dedicated to serving the traveling public 24 hours per day, 7 days per week on the same zoning lot.”

If the proposal becomes law, it opens the door for the 24/7 Travel Store alongside Interstate 70 to open its own accessory travel park. The outfit is admittedly a truck stop, and certainly would never be figured as a “destination RV park,” but for the weary motorhomer or travel trailer user, jumping off the pavement, filling up the fuel tanks, and getting a few hours of sleep would be easily facilitated. And without the cost of having to develop a free-standing RV park, it would be a good add-on for the existing business.

At the 24/7, a conditional use permit would limit the accessory park to 22 sites, and limit RVers’ stays to no more than seven in a row, capped at 21 nights in a 12-month period. The city says it would also require the main facility to be open 24/7, and light up the pathway from the park to the store at night. The truck stop proposal says the RV sites would come with full hookups.

Abilene’s officials think their idea might actually become a model for other municipalities to follow. Heaven knows it’s not elegant, but it’s a simple solution, and provided the travel stop keeps the overnighting prices down to a dull roar, it could be the answer to the problems that many RVers complain about. Make it available. Keep it simple. Keep it inexpensive. Is this like a baseball field? If you build it, they will come.

##RVT926

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Roger Marble
10 months ago

Like the idea. Many times I just need a place to stop for 8 hours. Even limiting electric to 30 Amp would allow one AC to run. Dump station and single water supply would be nice too. Do not have to be free. I have found a couple of Honor system locations. One in Montrose SD one in Seward NE. Montrose even has the township swimming pool and is only $20

Thomas
10 months ago

Somewhere off 39/51 in Illinois there is a gas station ,not a truck stop, that has a burger king and subway and diesel with 4 drive thru sites. No water,but electric and a dump $20 a night. I stayed at this place a few times. We need more like that.

Mike & Cathi Stark
11 months ago

This generally sounds good, but I would cap it at 12-24 hours. This should not be a staying place, just a stop, sleep, go otherwise it will be full of stayers and no space for the actual travelers.

Phil Atterbery
11 months ago

An area within a truck stop set a side for RV parking is great. We don’t mind a refer next door, but I’m not going to park between them. Some allowances should be made for mechanical break downs. There should be a point of contact position to manage daily operations.

BruceinAZ
11 months ago

But why 7 nights? I think it should be restricted to 1 night. After all I don’t think they’re thinking along the lines of destination RV Resorts. One night stays would make it more likely a space would be available for the intended purpose of providing a safe place to get a night’s sleep while en-route without having to pay full fare at a regular RV Park.

Captn John
11 months ago

I came across a place on my way to MO and used it on the way home as well. A truck stop, gas station, junk shop (gift?), and restaurant. 50 yards away a flat grassy area with gravel pull through sites FHU and $12 per night on the honor system. Some only 30 amp, some 50 too, some had problems too. The best part is dumping tanks before storing for a month without searching for a dump station.

Dave Allen
11 months ago
Reply to  Captn John

Can I ask where it is?

Lee
11 months ago

Wife and I would use all the the time. We travel between the east and west coast with stops all the time

Bounder
11 months ago

I’d use something like this for a simple over nighter as long as there’s no chance of a refer being parked next to me running all night. No need for any hook ups but a pay per use water fill and/or a dump would be OK. Add security, which you won’t get at a Walmart and I’d be happy to pay $10 – $15

Lee
11 months ago

A great idea, I hope it catches on everywhere.

Larry H Lee
11 months ago

Save some money for us and them:
Have some of the spaces just be pull-thru parking spaces for those who can run overnight on our batteries.
Have some spaces with electric only (50 amp) thereby reducing investment cost.
Dump station instead of full hookups. Could even have a fee for those who need to use the dump station.
Fresh water fill station to avoid plumbing to every parking site. It could even be coin operated. We all have tanks with pumps.
I would be pleased to pay $10-15 for a quiet night’s stay, fill water tank & dump holding tanks at a place a conveniently short distance away from the Interstate. The real question is would that price range be viable for the owner for year round use.

Liz
11 months ago
Reply to  Larry H Lee

The idea, I believe, was simplicity. A lot just like Walmart but without being one. No services. I like the idea of a dump station but many states provide them at Rest Areas.

Sean
11 months ago

How about small towns that issue permits to local shop that can give them to RVs who spend a certain minimum at their store?

Drew
11 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Sean, I like that….thanks for the idea- maybe it’ll get traction somewhere.

Drew

Sherry L
11 months ago

Would this be separate from the trucks/semi’s? They don’t like RVers taking their parking spots.