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Looking to Live in a Travel Trailer or RV? The Columbia County 5 Will Be Exploring the Issue

Couple sitting in front of a travel trailer with headline: Looking to live in a travel trailer. The County 5 will be exploring the issue.
Photo: Blake Wisz via Unsplash | Columbia County Observer Graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Living in travel trailers, RVs, or campers may come to pass if one member of the Columbia County 5 can convince the rest of the County Commission that this is a good idea.

County 5: Not good at following its own rules

At Thursday's meeting of the County 5, District 2 Commissioner Rocky Ford added an item to the morning's agenda.

The County Rules require that to add an item to the agenda at the last minute, it must be demonstrated that "the matter could not have been timely submitted prior to the deadline due to circumstances beyond the control" of the commissioner making the addition.

The board parliamentarian, County Attorney Joel Foreman, is supposed to keep the County 5 on the straight and narrow, making sure the board follows its rules. He didn’t.

The 5 approved the addition. Chairman Hollingsworth never announced what it was. The result: the public and possibly some board members were kept in the dark until the very end of the meeting


One Columbia County ordinance which allows staying in an RV for 180 days was enacted in 2018. One cannot stay for more than 180 days unless one leaves for five days and then returns.

Other ordinances allow one to stay in an RV or travel trailer if one is building a home on the property.

Commissioner Ford Makes His Case For Camper-RV Living

Almost two hours into the meeting, Commissioner Ford made his case for camper living.

Chairman Hollingsworth introduced the as-yet-unknown item.

Commissioner Hollingsworth said, "The Next thing is Rocky [Commissioner Ford] wants to discuss – campers. Is that right, Rocky?

Commissioner Ford took the floor: “OK. Yeah. Right now, we have a issue with code enforcement writin' up people livin' in campers claimin' they have to vacate the campers off property. Some of these campers are campin' without proper septic tank or sewage, and I don't have a problem with them evictin' them. Some of these campers people are livin' in right now have permitted septic tanks; they have power on; they have water just like any other house.”

“Some of these people been livin’ in campers for 25-30 years.”

“I think before we have our code enforcement goin' out and tellin' these people, you've got to get out of these campers. You gotta move these campers.”

Commissioner Rock Ford“We need to look at the rules and regulations on this a little because we already have a homeless problem in Columbia County. I don't think we need to add more homeless people to Columbia County by makin' them get out of these campers – when really – the only law they’re breakin’ is the square footage law for minimum size housing, and also, tiny homes are a big thing now. We have a 450 sq ft minimum size house in Columbia County.”

Commissioner Ford concluded, “I think we need to look at our LDRs before we start evictin’ all these people from these campers.”

Long-time District 1 Commissioner Ronald Williams weighed in, “I don’t mind a person livin’ in a camper with be hooked up with water and sewer, but they got to be praying [sic] property taxes.”

Commissioner Ford responded, “Exactly.”

Commissioner Williams: “If they’re not praying [sic] their taxes, then they need to be evicted.”

Commissioner Ford: “I agree 100%.”

Commissioner Williams: “So let’s fix that first.”

Chairman Hollingsworth weighed in, “I agree with Mr. Williams completely. I don't want Forests Country Subdivision [a subdivision in Chairman Hollingsworth's district] to have 17 campers in it.”

Commissioner Ford mentioned that while subdivisions have deed restrictions, the County does not enforce those.

Commissioner Williams announced that he had ridden around his district and that in one day, he counted nine campers in which people were living.

Commissioner Williams said, "They're not paying taxes. Let's fix that first.”

Commissioner Ford said, according to Property Appraiser Jeff Hampton, "some of them are homesteads.”

Mr. Ford continued, “They're payin’ taxes. But they might not be payin' garbage; they might not be payin' school assessments, and that's what we need to look at.”

Commissioner Robby HollingsworthChairman Hollingsworth added, “What about when they pull three campers in there? … I want to make staff understand… a tiny house has to be a certain size. We don't need to go below or above that, cause if we go down to 200 sq ft we're gonna have wooden buildins‘ out there with toilet showed in the side of them. If it’s gonna be a tiny house, it better be a registered PTA  - another words – registered parked trailer legal.”

Mr. Hollingsworth continued, “I know what’s goin’ to happen. They are all gonna go get their boat trailers and make a house out of em’.”

There was discussion about hardships, zoning, Suwannee County permitting (they require a permit for everything), folks in Suwannee County can live in a shed, and people dumping their waste in the river.

Chairman Hollingsworth said he didn’t want to see paved subdivisions with $500,000 homes with folks who don’t want to see people living in travel trailers.

The code enforcement department weighed in and explained they were complaint-driven and weren't looking to throw people out of their homes.

It was agreed that the County would schedule a workshop.

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