A proposed rule allowing RV parking at private clubs was deemed too broad by the Venice Planning Commission this week.

Staff brought forth the draft regulation at the behest of city council, but the commission voted to recommend against implementing the rule. Council will have final say.

The idea was to provide some leeway to the Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge. The nationally affiliated organization has a history accommodating members with RVs for brief overnight stays.

Current rules require a permit to be issued. The draft rule would do away with that requirement.

Staff drafted the rule subject to eight restrictions to keep RV parking areas from spreading throughout the city, but commissioners weren’t convinced it could stop a proliferation.

The restrictions include no parking for more than seven consecutive days, parking must be on a hard surface, no connection to water or sewer (electricity is okay), and no more than four RVs on site at any given time. The rule would only apply to private clubs defined as “associations and organizations of a civil, fraternal or social character not operated or maintained for profit, and to which there is no unrestricted public access or use.”

There are other restrictions, too, ensuring RV parking wouldn’t impact buffering, and no converting existing parking spaces into RV parking spaces.

“I have a problem with this,” said Commission Chair Barry Snyder. “I don’t know what the unintended consequences are. It seems to me if the Elks wanted this done they should have come in and requested it through a modified site plan or what have you, rather than put forth a petition that affects the whole city.”

Commissioners Shaun Graser and Paul Murphy agreed with Snyder’s assessment of proposal.

Commissioner Kit McKeon said the rule was drafted in response to an unnamed council member who was trying to shut down the Elks RV parking.

“This is just trying to … allow them to do what they have done historically,” McKeon said.

Ken Thomas, a member of the Elks, spoke in support of the proposed rule.

“We don’t open up our parking facilities to anybody who says they need to spend the night,” he said. “We have an arrangement with the traveling Elks, who by the way bring in tourist revenue to some degree. We tell them where to unload black and gray water, where they can get provisions, obtain souvenirs and visit the local beaches.

“The welcoming we get helps our local people” through Elks Club fundraisers and scholarships to high schoolers. “We try to make a difference in people’s lives. If we turn away traveling Elks, we lose and the community loses,” Thomas said.

Despite the vote against the draft rule, Commissioners were generally supportive of continuing the allowed RV parking at that location.

“I would support the Elks being able to do this,” Snyder said. “I (just) don’t support this (proposal) because of its unintended consequences through out the city.”


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