Antrim to study use of RVs

Town of Antrim

Town of Antrim

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript 

Published: 11-29-2023 8:00 AM

Modified: 11-29-2023 4:00 PM


The Town of Antrim is contemplating how it will respond to multiple reports of residents living full-time in recreational vehicles, which is against the town’s existing zoning ordinance. 

Mark Murdough, chair of the Antrim Planning Board, stated that “RV issues are still very early on in discovery with town officials and will need to have further analysis to determine the full extent of the impact.” The issue will be included on an upcoming Antrim Select Board agenda. 

At Antrim’s Oct. 23  Select Board meeting, Rebecca Hull, an alternate member of the town Planning Board, requested a record of all RV-related violations  the town has received in the past two years, stating that the information would be helpful to  the Planning Board in reviewing the ordinance about recreational vehicles.

Antrim’s zoning ordinance requires that recreational vehicles be connected to town sewer, have an approved septic system and have a state-approved portable toilet or self-contained sanitary system which can properly dispose of waste at the Antrim Sewage Treatment Plant. At the Nov. 16 Planning Board meeting, member John Anderson reported that the draft of the updated RV ordinance is still in progress. 

According to local social service agencies, the  region’s acute housing shortage has forced many local families into temporary housing situations such as RVs, non-winterized cabins, off-grid trailers and other accessory dwellings not intended for full-time use.  While zoning ordinances about about living in RVs vary from town to town in the Monadnock region and across the state, families with children are generally required to live in dwellings with running water and heat. 

Antrim’s zoning ordinance states that recreational vehicles, “including travel trailers, pickup campers or coaches, motorized dwellings and tent trailers,” may not be used as residences for more than 21 days and must be parked off-street. An exception is granted for homeowners who are renovating their homes. In this situation, residents may apply  to the town for a six-month permit to live in a recreational vehicle during construction.

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In June, the Antrim Planning Board began a review of different types of existing and potential types of housing in town, including tiny homes and cluster housing, as part of the creation of the town’s master plan. The Planning Board will make a complete report to the Select Board at a future date.  The board is looking at various options to improve housing in Antrim, increasing conservation and open space through cluster housing and creating housing that would be more attractive to young people. 

Landlords are required to provide functioning heat, hot water and plumbing to tenants in New Hampshire. 

Janice Pack, Antrim’s new welfare director, said she had not had any families in RVs request help, but is aware that many people in town are housing-insecure. 

“There is simply no affordable housing anywhere,” Pack said. 

Erika Alusic-Bingham, a housing and fuel assistance coordinator for Southern New Hampshire Services, said many families in the region are desperate, as they have been evicted, cold weather is setting in and there is no housing available near their jobs and their children’s schools. 

“I’m very concerned about this  situation – that families in the region have had to resort to living in trailers designed primarily for recreational use because they have nowhere to go. I’m equally concerned that towns will  start to crack down on this issue without being able to offer any viable housing solution for these families,” Alusic-Bingham said. “When communities restrict development of multifamily homes, when you combine it with our economic situation, with rents and taxes going up, local families have to do whatever they can to survive and put a roof, any kind of roof, over their heads.”

Alusic-Bingham encourages families needing assistance with heating bills, food or rent to call their town welfare officer,  or to contact Southern New  Hampshire Services at snhs.org