A second filing of an amendment with new restrictions on front yard parking in Spencer was approved at last week’s city council meeting.
Ward 5 Councilman Ron Hanson again was the only no in a 4-1 vote against the amendment.
The amendment, which was first approved by a 5-1 vote on Nov. 5, 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.
“I’m still going to vote no on this,” Hanson said during the Nov. 19 meeting. “I still have problems with this because of some of the lots out there, those 44-foot lots and putting a standard 24-foot (driveway) takes them out of compliance there and just makes it tough to follow through with that 50 percent of a 44-foot lot.”
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.
Hanson said he believes some of the properties in the Stoneybrook Circle SW area are all 44-foot lots.
“It would be borderline whether they’re in compliance,” Hanson said.
He asked city attorney Don Hemphill whether those current properties are grandfathered in.
Hemphill said he was hesitant “to confirm that any existing use would be grandfathered in because of uses that don’t involve a permanent improvement.”
“I mean, if somebody says I’ve been parking on my lawn for the last two years, that doesn’t mean they’ll get to continue to park on their lawn,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill added current paved areas that exceed the restrictions in the amendment would be grandfathered in if they exceed the 50 percent restriction.
Mayor Kevin Robinson said he received feedback from citizens. He told them he’d relay that feedback to the council.
“They have concerns of if crushed concrete or something like that would devalue their property,” Robinson said. “So if somebody, for example, has kids with multiple drivers and they come into compliance and they cover half their yard, you know, with crushed concrete up to the balance of 50 percent, they had just expressed that concern.”
Both Hanson and Ward 3 Councilman Steve Bomgaars made the point that enforcement should be delayed.
“There’s got to be an education process, number one,” Bomgaars said. “And then, number two, if (residents) want to continue to park and use their front yard for parking, they’re going to have some preparation to do for that and I think we should be somewhat lenient in giving them time to comply with the new ordinance.”
Several city council members said July 1 would be good.
Hemphill recommended adding that enforcement amendment at the third filing at the next city council meeting on Dec. 3.
Have a thought about the front yard parking restrictions? Email editor Tim Weideman.