The Spencer City Council at its meeting Monday approved an amendment that places restrictions on front yard parking in town.
The amendment, which was approved by a 5-1 vote, restricts the amount of area allowed for vehicle parking in the front and side yards of single-, two- and multi-family residences. Vehicles also must now be parked on gravel or another hard surface type.
According to city council agenda notes, the amendment promotes green space, provides for storm water drainage and protects property values in town.
“We’ve talked about this for well over a year now and I think that this is a good compromise ordinance,” council member Steve Bomgaars said. “It’s not as much as I would like, but I think that this is certainly a step in the right direction to cleaning up some of the haphazard parking that people do.”
The amendment makes the following changes to city code:
- On residential lots with less than 60 feet of street frontage, no more than 50 percent of the front yard area can be surfaced and used for drives and parking.
- On residential lots with more than 60 feet of street frontage, no more than 40 percent of the front yard area can be surfaced and used for drives and parking.
- On residential lots where two or more sides abut a public street, the parking area of the narrower of the two sides is determined by whether it has more or less than 60 feet of street frontage and must follow those requirements. For the wider side, the maximum surface area for drives and parking is 25 percent.
The restrictions do not apply during snow emergencies.
City council member Ron Hanson voted no on the amendment.
“I haven’t been a real proponent on this,” he said. “I see a lot of issues and problems with it.”
One of the problems Hanson described concerned long, shared driveways in older parts of town. He said that the ordinance could be complicated to work with in those areas, especially if one of the residents has multiple vehicles being driven regularly. He also mentioned the amount of space that’s able to be used.
“I just feel that it’s going to make a hardship on some people and that’s why I’m voting against it,” Hanson said.
Since the ordinance making the amendment requires three filings, it likely won’t go into effect until December. Hanson asked that the effective date be changed to April or May so that people can surface areas of their yards.
The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance limiting the number of accessory vehicles (camper, boat trailer, other trailer types, etc.) allowed to be parked on residential premises to two for long-term storage and one for short-term use in the front yard.