Unauthorized man camps not welcome in many places
With the economic crunch hitting the country hard, forcing home foreclosures and job losses, some Uintah County residents are welcoming grown children and families back home.
And in the same vein this is also be happening in some places in Carbon and Emery counties as well.
In an effort to help those they love, many are offering the use of their yards or property, for families to live on in campers and/or trailers.
Not everyone in the Basin is as welcoming the moves people are making to do this.
Matt Cazier, Uintah County planning director, says while county officials sympathize with those residents who are facing hard times, officials have been forced to crack down on transient housing.
"We get a lot of complaints from community members about neighbors who are letting people live in their yards, or on their property," says Cazier. "Our main concerns are where they're getting their water, and where is the sewer waste going? Transient housing is not conducive to a stable community."
Cazier also said the county is more concerned with unauthorized "man camps," when residents allow several trailers or campers to be housed on their property.
"We certainly understand helping out a family member," he says, "but some people are renting out their land in spaces for the purpose of making money. We're not out there looking for things to do, but we have to enforce the ordinance."
The growth in the Uintah Basin with this kind of activity is two fold. First is the recession and how it is affecting families. Secondly, housing has been tight because of the oil and gas boom, so in some places man camps have sprung up in places where they are not authorized.
Letters have been sent to offending residents, citing Uintah County Codes which prohibits camping for longer than 16 days in unapproved campgrounds, while another coade states travel trailer courts may be permitted only in certain zones.
Offenders are given 30 days to "cease and desist using all camp trailers as residences," and 10 days to contact the TriCounty Health Department in regards to the appropriate cleaning and removal of any waste."
Cazier recommends residents explore options such as local RV parks, or county complexes.
John Norman, of Outlaw, Texas, lives in a camp trailer at Buckskin Hills, and pays $500 per month for water, electricity and sewer services. He says the county plans to make improvements to the complex next year, but for now he's just happy to have the basic services.
"I pay $500 a month here, but I think next year we'll get washer and dryer hookups and maybe a few trees," he says.
The problem of people living in unauthorized trailers in Carbon and Emery counties has been around for years, but many officials fear it will get worse as the economy sours and if the gas industry in the area grows to the point where it outstrips the housing availability. So far that isn't much of a problem, but it could be.
More to the point, in the Castle Valley area the problem with this kind of thing has come as a result of people buying recreational property and then either living on it part time or full time without getting proper clearances and permits.
In one case a camp trailer was moved onto a piece of property above Price Canyon and the people ran the sewer right out into some bushes and covered the flexline they installed with grass and paint trying to disquise it.
County ordinances in both counties forbid this kind of sewage disposal and also there are ordinances against people living continually in camp trailers in areas outside of authorized RV parks or campgrounds.
Richard Shaw, Publisher contributed to this article.