City council establishing process for front yard parking construction permits

City council establishing process for front yard parking construction permits

The Spencer City Council on Monday approved the first filing of an ordinance requiring Spencer residents to apply for at least one permit if they want to install surface areas so they can continue to park in their front yards.

In December, the council approved an amendment to city code that restricts front yard parking to surfaced areas and puts limitations on how much of a front yard can be surfaced. That policy goes into effect July 1.

City council member Ron Hanson voted against the policy last year in each of its three filings, but joined other council members on Monday in approving the permit process.

However, he did again say the policy creates issues.

“I still believe there’s going to be issues, but I do believe that we need a permit to do this,” Hanson said. “So I will vote yes on this.”

According to the ordinance approved Monday, the new parking improvements application will be the only form needed if two criteria are met:

  1. No street curb will be removed or ground down to allow for a driveway opening or to enlarge an existing driveway opening.
  2. A public sidewalk goes through the parking area.

If a street curb does need to be altered, a driveway approach in public right of way must be installed, or there is no public sidewalk going through the proposed parking area, then the applicant must fill out the Public Works Department’s driveway permit and the new front yard parking permit.

The fee for those permits is $10 each, however, planning department staff recommended in a memo that residents not be charged for the front yard parking permit if they also must apply for the driveway permit.

“It wasn’t our intention to double dip,” Planning Director Kirby Schmidt told the council. “So, if a front yard parking installation needs to have a Public Works permit for improvements in the public right of way, we defer the fee for the front yard parking on private property.”

The front yard parking permit would expire annually at the end of construction season.

Schmidt said residents who are seen parking their vehicles on unsurfaced areas of their yards prior to July 1 will be notified.

“We’ll be handing out informational letters or mailing them to the property so that people will be notified that there might be a little issue that they could start planning to make improvements so they can continue to park those vehicles in the front legally.”

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