Danedri Thompson
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The city may revise ordinances that regulate trailers parked in driveways, but council members agreed to leave regulations that limit the parking of recreational vehicles, or RVs, in residential driveways.
Council members debated potential changes to the city ordinances during a work session on Dec. 2.
“Of all of the city’s code enforcement activities, enforcement of the trailer and RV storage regulations is perhaps the most challenging and time consuming,” a staff memo to council reads.
Of 780 code enforcement cases opened in 2014, more than 300 of them related to the storage and parking of RVs, large boats and trailers in residential driveways. Under existing codes, RVs, trailers and boats can be stored in a side yard. The code does not designate required property line setbacks or require pavement for side-yard storage.
The staff memo recommended more stringent regulations, including setback and paving requirements.
“In staff’s opinion, Gardner’s reguations do not adequately protect neighboring property owners from the visual impact of trailer and RV parking in side and rear yards,” the memo reads.
Boats, RVs, and trailers cannot be stored in driveways, though they can be parked there for up to 48-hours in a 30-day period, allowing residents time to load or unload.
During an Oct. 6 work session, council directed staff to work on amending the codes to allow storage or permanent parking in driveways, however the council back pedaled and requested a more thorough discussion after receiving input from residents.
Council member Kristina Harrison said between those two meetings and the Dec. 2 work session, she heard from several people who opposed making changes to the code.
“The real concern was around large, recreational vehicles,” Harrison said.
She noted that most of the constituents she spoke to lived in neighborhoods with home owners’ associations (HOA) that did not enforce their own rules.
Jerry Keeney told council he is one of the directors of the HOA in his neighborhood.
“I’m not up here to beat a dead horse,” he told council during open comment period of the meeting. “…I just hope that the city council has nothing against the working man’s trailer. But motor homes and large boats, I don’t think they belong in the driveway to stay there forever. Next it is going to be vehicles up on blocks.”
Like Keeney, Harrison said most of the people she spoke to weren’t opposed to allowing work trailers to be parked in front of residences. Harrison suggested a compromise that would allow work trailers to park in driveways, while continuing to restrict the parking of RVs and boats.
Staff noted in its report to council that it appears that many Gardner residents are self-employed in lawn maintenance or construction trades.
“It is important to recognize that regulations affecting residents’ means of making a living are likely to meet with resistance,” a staff memo reads.
Council member Heath Freeman liked the compromise.
“I’m not sure there’s a reason for parking a recreational vehicle in front of a home in a driveway,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of businesses that work out of trailers, and I don’t think it is out of the question or even unreasonable for them to be able to park in front of their homes, because (the trailers) are moved so frequently.”
Council member Tory Roberts said she would like to see regulations that allow storage of RVs and boats in driveways as long as the vehicles don’t encroach on the sidewalk.
“I got an overwhelming response to have it more lenient,” she said.
Council will consider changing the regulations at a future council meeting.