Special to The Gardner News
Around 80 people attended the February 16 town hall meeting hosted by the City of Gardner to review ordinances regarding outdoor storage of RV’s, boats, campers and trailers on residential property. Onsite audience polling suggests that whatever action the city decides to take, including taking no action, is likely to displease a significant percentage of citizens.
Larry Powell, director of business and economic development, spent around 30 minutes reviewing the details of the current rules and policies.
“The goal here is to create regional rules that are appropriate for Gardner’s neighborhood context. In other words, the areas that you live and drive through. These should be well understood, they should be acceptable and easy to enforce. “ Powell said.
Powell told attendees that there is currently only one code enforcement official, who for the most part, only investigates citizen complaints and continuously observed violations. The codes enforcement officer does not patrol the streets searching for reasons to issue citations.
He said that the code enforcement officer “doesn’t have time or the inclination to go out and discover things that make you angry. That’s not her purpose or her job, that’s not the reason for the codes. The codes enforcement is to give us a quality community that’s acceptable, nice to live in, has high safety values, is easy to get around in and the storage and parking of these types of vehicles and so forth will be more effective…” (in achieving those goals).
A series of photos were displayed, showing examples of acceptable parking and storage, in contrast to examples of code violations.
At one point an attendee asked what prompted Gardner to reconsider existing codes. The answer was that the city had received citizen inquiries suggesting the need.
The latter part of the meeting was devoted to polling the audience. The city once again used an electronic polling system which provides instant results. Those results revealed public opinion is divided.
The results below are the totals from the 64 attendees who were furnished with electronic “clickers.” Those who did not get voting devices wrote their responses on paper. Those responses will be tallied and included in a summary for city officials to review.
When asked “In general, would you like the rules to be…”
A. Less Restrictive,
B. More restrictive or
C. Left unchanged,
48 percent responded with less restrictive, 25 percent said more restrictive and 27 percent wanted no change.
Another question was “Should storage of non-passenger vehicles be allowed in the front drive?”
36 percent responded with no,
40 percent said yes and
19 percent said yes, but only if there is no reasonable access to the side or rear yard.
When asked “Do you think there should be a height limit for boats, RVs or trailers stored in the front driveway?”,
23 percent answered yes,
39 percent said no, and
38 percent chose the option that these types should not be in the front drive at all.
Response to “Should vehicles stored in side or rear yards be screened by a fence or appropriate landscaping?”, was
45 percent yes and
53 percent no.
The above are four of nine questions that were asked. The overall general opinion seemed to favor less rules rather than more, but by a fairly slim margin.
Whether current code should be modified or left unchanged will continue to be evaluated by city government and will likely include another public meeting in the future.