BELMONT-- After hearing comments from both sides and entering into a 45 minute executive session with their attorney, Belmont Village Council voted to uphold an ordinance passed in 2002, prohibiting the use of campers, RV's and mobile homes (outside of mobile home parks) within the village limits.
Before making the announcement at a special meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 13, Thompson said, "This is the part of being mayor that no one likes." "We are going with the ordinance as it is written and as it stands," he said.
Thompson said those currently living in campers on property within the village have six months to remove them from within village limits.
One of those who will now have to move is Shayna Erwin and her two children, ages five and eight. She said the family moved 1,300 miles with her husband's job in the oil and gas industry.
Erwin, whose child attends Union Local Elementary School, said she volunteers at the school and she and others do give back to and support the community.
She said she experienced "prejudice" in Belmont that her
family has never experienced anywhere else. Erwin referred to signs erected within the village saying that "trailers were not welcome."
"We are not trying to disrupt your peaceful, little town," she said, noting that she too, came from a small town.
"I am only asking that you treat other people as you would want to be treated," Erwin said.
Erwin's camper is located on property owned by village resident James Lewis.
Lewis asked fellow residents and council members to realize the situation would be "temporary."
"This opportunity won't be available 10 or 15 years down the road," he said. He said the income generated by temporary residents such as Erwin could help the village financially.
"I think it is a wonderful opportunity," Lewis said.
John Tacosik, who said he has 125 years of family history in Belmont, planned to set up some campers on property that he owns where the village car wash was located. He asked council to grant him a variance to the ordinance. Council declined to do so.
In answer to a resident's question, Thompson said trailer parks required five or more trailers and were regulated by the state. He said if someone purchased a large enough piece of property, they could erect a trailer park within the village. Thompson said nearby Bethesda has two trailer parks.
The uncertain consequences of the rapid population growth due to the gas and oil industry concerned residents like Donnie Williams.
"I have no problem with the campers here now," he said. "It is what is coming. You are going to have a camper in your backyard and campers in every vacant lot. Our village with a population of 500 people can't handle that."
He was concerned that people who did not live in Belmont would purchase property just to put in campers and make money.
Belmont resident Maggie James already knows what is like to have a camper in her backyard. She invited those attending the meeting to see her backyard.
"I have no privacy," she said. "I don't think it has been done fairly. Belmont needs to look out for Belmont," James said.
Although council originally said they would revisit the ordinance 90 days after the issue was brought up at the Tuesday, Sept. 4 council meeting, they decided to address the issue with the Sept. 13 special meeting, forgoing their pay.
Although Thompson was mayor in 2002, when the ordinance was passed, current council members were not in office.
Kenny Davis, who was involved with the original ordinance, said it was passed at the time due to a property owner who had a recreational trailer on a lot without utilities that was being used as a residence.