Council revisits vehicle parking nuisances

·3 min read

Oct. 3—Newton City Council is revisiting an ordinance that makes changes to outside parking and storage of vehicles and trailers on residential properties. The city first introduced the ordinance in March and was met with apprehension by some council members who felt it was burdensome to working class residents.

According to city documents, the City of Newton recognizes property owners work for a business that allows them to bring a company vehicle home; however, large commercial vehicles or equipment in residential areas "has detrimental and blighting impacts" upon the quality and character of neighborhoods.

The city's planning and zoning commission discussed the ordinance and voted in support of it. The commission also recommended the city explore alternative parking for semi-trucks and trailers, which are the vehicles and equipment that are expected to be affected by the ordinance the most.

The council voted 4-2 to pass the first reading of the ordinance. Two more readings must be approved before the amended ordinance is adopted.

If the ordinance is adopted, dump trucks, construction equipment, semi-trailers, semi-tractors, semi-tractor-trailer combinations and unlicensed commercial vehicles would be prohibited from being parked or stored in residential areas.

Trailers for over-the-road hauling of liquids, gases, livestock, fuel, refrigerated foods, materials, vehicles, construction equipment or other products or materials will also be prohibited, along with trailers used primarily for storage.

The city argues the storage of these vehicles obstruct views on streets and private property, create cluttered and otherwise unsightly areas, prevent full use of residential streets for parking, impair the free flow of traffic and decrease nearby occupants' enjoyment of their property and neighborhood.

Storing or parking these vehicles also adversely affect property values and neighborhood patterns, city documents stated. Revisions of the ordinance also include refining the definition of a trailer and deleting the definition of a fifth-wheel trailer.

Councilperson Evelyn George sat in on the planning and zoning commission meeting and said there was a trucker who said the conditions of city streets cannot handle the load of semi-tractors. Councilperson Mark Hallam does not want to see semi-tractors parked on streets but he still has reservations.

"It comes back to the issue of private property, for me," he said. "And I continue to believe that a working man or woman that drives a truck for a living should have the right to park their semi-tractor on their own property. We talked about 72 hours at some point."

As long as it's on a hard surface, Hallam cannot see how it adversely affects curb appeal. Councilperson Craig Trotter agreed, saying they're not different from larger campers. Councilperson Randy Ervin echoed what Trotter and Hallam said and agreed there are some things in the ordinance that should be addressed.

"Unfortunately in my opinion semi-tractors should not be included in that," Ervin said, adding that he takes offense to the city calling the trucks detrimental and blighting.

Ervin proposed the council strike the language involving semi-tractors and suggested they can't stay in one spot for more than 72 hours in a seven-day period and must not be left running. Ervin made his request into a motion, which passed in a 4-2 vote.

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