As more people in Grayson County pick RVs as their permanent residences, county officials are grappling with an influx of parks that house the campers coming into the area. The County Commissioners talked public safety, sanitation and tax concerns at their weekly meeting Tuesday.


While the commissioners took no action, they discussed issues related to the growth — which has taken off in the county’s unincorporated south — and brainstormed ways to impose reasonable regulations, within the county’s jurisdiction.


18 RV parks are currently operating across the county and more than a dozen of those have been built in the last three years, Grayson County Engineer Clay Barnett said.


“Questions on (building) RV parks are the most frequent calls we get. We get one about every other day,” Barnett said. “Some of them are very nice, but some of them are just throwing down gravel and putting a water line in without any consideration about how we might get a fire truck or ambulance in there, or how the sewage is going to be taken care of.”


Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the rising number of RV parks to the south has been spurred by a lack of affordable housing in Grayson County and continued development in neighboring Collin County. Commissioners Phyllis James and Jeff Whitmire agreed that area school districts have expressed concern over the rising number of students and resulting resource strains as more RV parks open. And, county officials are finding more unauthorized, under-the-radar RV parks — often on the heels of septic or environmental issues.


To get a better grip on the growth, county officials suggested they start with a look at any RV-applicable regulations imposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But, Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Craig Price said counties are currently hindered by the fact that they can’t legally define an RV park or decree someone a permanent resident of an RV. And, if the county tries to set its own definitions, Price said it will likely be met with legal challenges from RV park owners who disagree.


“We cannot act if we’re not authorized by some statute or constitutional provision,” Price said of the county’s limitations. “Cities, on the other hand, are free to act in any manner that is not prohibited by a statute or constitution. It’s very polar opposite for counties and cities. That’s why cities can have many more regulations than we’re allowed to impose.”


Amid the lack of oversight options, Magers said he did not want Grayson County to become the “fleabag, RV capital of the world.”


However, Magers noted that many RV parks in the county are reputable and responsibly run, and he encouraged county officials to start a dialogue with the owners of such parks. Moving forward, commissioners said they will also consider the impact any new regulations might have on existing RV parks and those that cater to short-term travelers and visitors.


“We have a great tourism driven economy around both lakes (Lake Texoma and Lake Ray Roberts) that we want to support. We’re not trying to attack those in any fashion,” Commissioner Whitmire said. “It gets back to whether someone’s going to be living in a structure. How do we then control the septic issues, or the public safety issues?”


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.