Though negotiations began with hard feelings and allegations of harassment, Tooele City officials and the owners of Vorwaller Homestead and RV Park have settled a long-running dispute with a compromise that pleases both sides.
The results of the settlement, as well as clean up and maintenance efforts that Vorwaller management initiated during the negotiation process, will also improve quality of life for residents of the mobile home and RV park, said Rundassa Eshete, one of the owners of Vorwaller Homestead.
Eshete said city officials first aired concerns that continued development at the RV park violated city ordinance about two years ago, after a routine inspection. Although the creation of RV parks is now prohibited by the city, Tooele City Attorney Roger Baker said some parks like Vorwaller were permitted to remain in operation so long as the parks do not build or expand beyond what existed before the prohibition.
After the inspection revealed allegations that Vorwaller had added new RV pads, the city discovered several other possible violations of its conditional use permit, Baker said. The park had several RV pads where modifications to the electrical wiring had not been inspected, and did not have some of the facilities required by its permit, such as a laundry, showers and an on-site office.
Eshete said the pads in question were not new, but were old pads that Vorwaller had restored to service. He agreed, however, that the park had failed to install the required facilities.
“We were supposed to do that from day one,” Eshete said. “But people didn’t demand it, and it didn’t seem necessary from a business point of view.”
Under the new agreement, Vorwaller will be capped at 151 total pads, will be required to have inspections on the unpermitted electrical work, and must install a commons building that includes showers and restrooms, a laundry facility, an on-site office, and a designated room for community functions, Baker said. Eshete added that the park is looking into running a small store out of the facility as well.
Though he has not solicited any official bids, Eshete estimated the cost of the required facility at $100,000 to $120,000. He said the facility will be built within the next two years, as per the terms of the settlement.
Additionally, Vorwaller has made an effort to remove abandoned, dilapidated trailers and homes from the park and to clean the surrounding grounds, Eshete said. He said they have recently repaved the streets in the park, have cracked down on drug-related activity, and have become more selective in their application process to keep problems from returning to the park in the future.
The overall outcome of the settlement has pleased city officials, said Baker.
“This is not like a nasty lawsuit we resolved through a legal settlement,” he said. “But we had some disputes we wanted resolved, so this was the mechanism we chose.”
“[Eshete] has been very cooperative, which we have appreciated,” Baker added.
Eshete said the city, likewise, had been polite and understanding through the entire process.
“I think they handled it very well,” he said.
These kinds of conflicts between municipalities and developers arise frequently, Eshete said. But he said the outcome in this case was somewhat unique in the all-around positive outcome.
“It could be a good example for others,” he said.