The fate of 34.7 acres of property within the city of Humble remains unclear after Humble City Council unanimously denied a variance request made by the property owners—Barefoot RV Park LLC—at the March 24 City Council meeting.

Barefoot RV Park purchased the property in 2013 with plans of developing an RV park, according to Robert Saville, who represented Barefoot RV Park at the March 24 meeting. The property is bordered to the east by North Houston Avenue, to the south by FM 1960, and to the west by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, according to the variance request included in the March 24 agenda packet.

"Our park's going to be five stars; it's gong to have a fishing pond, walking trails, a pool, trees. ... There's going to be 30, 40, 50 feet between each space," Saville said during the meeting. "Where most RV parks are all concrete and slammed in there, it's going to be aesthetically appealing for the city of Humble. None of the neighbors are opposed to this coming in. It's going to be gated, landscaped well—it's going to be nice."

However, in December 2018, the city of Humble approved new regulations and ordinances that Saville said hinder Barefoot RV Park's ability to build an RV park. According to the agenda packet, those regulations of concern include the following:

  • Occupancy of an RV space within the park for more than 14 consecutive days, or more than 30 days within any 180-day period, is prohibited.

  • Recreational vehicle spaces shall be provided in every park, consisting of a minimum of 1,750 square feet for each space, which shall be at least 25 feet wide and clearly defined.

  • No recreational vehicle may be parked within 10 feet of another recreational vehicle. No recreational vehicle may be parked within 25 feet of a property line.

In response, Barefoot RV Park requested the continuous occupancy be expanded to 90 days within an 180-day period, the RV space regulation either be deleted or modified to 15 feet wide, and that an RV may be parked within 10 feet of the property line if the property line does not about another residence.

"Since y'all passed these ordinances, that one ordinance kills an RV park because 95% of people who stay in a park want a monthly rate," Saville said. "I know what y'all are getting at; you don't want somebody setting up permanent shop there—a permanent residence—and our intention is not to do that. Some other parks will have people move after 30 or 60 days to another spot so we're asking that, that is the only ordinance that we change since these were passed without our knowledge."

However, Mayor Norman Funderburk said the new regulations, while strict, were implemented purposefully.

"There was a lot of time spent, a lot of consideration given [to these regulations and ordinances] and admittedly we did make it a stringent policy, and that was our intent," Funderburk said. "We feel like if someone is going to come in here with a development, in this case an RV park, we need to set the bar high. For what development opportunities that are left here in this community, we feel like those developers need to meet our standards, and we're going to do everything that we can during our time here to ensure sustainability of this community for years and years and decades to come."

Likewise, Council Member David Pierce—a self-proclaimed "RV-er"—said in his experience, a vast majority of RV park tenants are permanent residents and that RV parks have become synonymous with mobile home or trailer parks.

"I don't have anything against mobile home parks [or] trailer parks, ... but I just have to question if an RV was built for long-term living, especially with the hurricanes we have, the flooding. That area in particular flooded during [Hurricane] Harvey," Pierce said during the meeting. "I just feel like it's not the best interest of the city ... with regards to our first responders, emergency responders to allow folks to live in recreational vehicles."

Following a motion by Funderburk, Humble City Council unanimously denied Barefoot RV Park's variance request on all three points. Funderburk reiterated the council was not saying Barefoot RV Park cannot build an RV park, but instead if it is built, the council would like the provisions to remain in place.