Reno City Council indefinitely tabled a decision on a special use permit regarding a RV residence until the applicant can sort out heirship issues.
In August, an ordinance complaint was filed against the residents of a home on North Cardinal Street where Sarah Troutman resides. The city wanted Troutman to remove an RV from the property that serves as a residence. It is unclear who initiated the complaint.
Reno’s ordinances state that “the use of a recreational vehicle for residential or commercial purposes is entirely prohibited within the city,” and there are two exceptions to this rule. This ordinance was adopted in 2002.
Troutman said the RV serves as a home to members of her family who care for her and her husband when needed, and they help with chores around the house. Furthermore, those relatives have lived in the RV for six years.
“We asked for the SUP because my husband has health issues,” she said. “If he has a problem, I need help with him. Not 15 minutes later, not 30 minutes later when someone can get here, but right then. He has a problem falling a lot.”
There was never any option for the relatives to live inside Troutman’s home because she said the home is too small for that.
Both Troutman’s home and RV are served by well water and a septic system, she said. The RV has electricity.
Troutman requested a special use permit to allow the RV and appeared before the Reno Planning and Zoning Commission in October.
The issue that gave pause to P&Z was that Troutman is not listed as the official owner of the property on North Cardinal Road. Instead, her in-laws, who are dead, are listed as the property’s owners.
Troutman said her husband has lived on the property and has had full control over the property for the past 43 years. Her husband’s great-grandmother purchased the property in the 1930s, and it was eventually passed down to her husband’s mother, who died about five years ago. The property’s ownership was never transferred over.
“There's never been a question,” Troutman said. “We pay the taxes.”
P&Z tabled a decision and picked up discussion again in December when the members were able to get legal advice from one of the city’s attorneys. Attorney Alan Wayland advised that the item be tabled until heirship of the property is officially established. Wayland also discouraged P&Z from granting a special use permit in this case.
On that advice, P&Z recommended the denial of the special use permit to the city council during its January meeting.
On Jan. 23, the council decided to give Troutman as much time she needs to resolve the heirship issue and return to council to request the special use permit. This was decided in a 4-1 vote with Mayor Pro Tem Katie Tucker opposing.
Some council members argued that protection should be offered to Troutman while she resolves the heirship issue.
“As far as I'm concerned, these are the people that we're supposed to be working for,” Deputy Pro Tem Hernando Herrera said. “These are the people that have been living here for 43 years, well before most of us moved here, and we've been gleefully taking her tax money. And so, she's entitled, in my opinion, to some form of protection.”
Later in the meeting when discussing code enforcement, Tucker said council’s decision to indefinitely table Troutman’s special use permit “destroyed” the city’s code enforcement procedures.
“We extended it for their lifetime, which just destroyed our code enforcement compliance procedures,” Tucker said.
Herrera and council member Shelli Swift argued that cases regarding code enforcement would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Troutman said she would pursue resolving the heirship issue, but she doesn’t know how long that will take.
City Administrator Scott Passmore could not be reached to answer questions for this story by press time.
- Jeff Prince
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