Keweenaw camper owners upset

EAGLE RIVER – People with campers in Keweenaw County came to Wednesday’s county Board of Commissioners meeting to protest an ordinance requiring them to move the campers off their property by Nov. 30.

“We just want your help to end this matter,” said Chuck Junot of Laurium. “We want to keep our campers on our property.”

In June, camper owners received letters from county Zoning Administrator Ann Gasperich notifying them they were in violation of the county’s zoning ordinance. Section 7.15 of the ordinance states temporary dwellings such as travel trailers, mobile homes or RVs cannot be used for any temporary dwelling purpose for more than 90 days in a year.

The violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Gasperich said travel trailers around lakefront properties have been a longtime area of concern for the county.

The deeds from the Superior Land Company have limits on how long the temporary structures can remain on the property, which vary depending on the property.

Gasperich had asked for clarification from the Zoning Board of Appeals on what she found to be vague wording in the ordinance.

“They told me what the interpretation of the ordinance was, and that was that the trailers can only stay on the property for 90 days, occupied or not, and they can’t be stored on the property, because they don’t have a primary dwelling,” she said.

Junot said he and other campers would have to find a rental space such as a pole barn, which he said would be a burden. Junot said most property owners never move theirs, having had them towed there by the person who sold it to them.

“They’re dictating what we can do on our own property, and we don’t think it’s right,” he said outside the meeting.

The Keweenaw County Planning Commission is reviewing the ordinance. If the ordinance is revised, it will come to the county board for approval.

“I didn’t write the ordinance,” Gasperich said. “It’s my job to do what the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals tell me to do. If they tell me send out violation letters, I send out violation letters.”

Junot hopes he can continue to have the camper on his property.

“I hope they resolve the issue, that we keep them where they are, because we’re going to refuse to move them anyway,” he said. “How are they going to prosecute 500 people?”

In other action, the board:

approved a furnace bid from William Hyrkas Plumbing and Heating for $48,790.

approved a propane tank bid from Ferrell Gas for $2,839.

approved budget amendments for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

approved a bid for windows for the carriage house/garage from Keweenaw Glass & Door for $2,795.18.

approved a resolution in support of Tri-County Community Corrections’ application for 2014 funding.

approved a resolution to support the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress.