County targets commercial parking in residential areas

By Steve Estes

In an effort to stop the parking of commercial trucks and trailers along the public rights-of-way, the Monroe Board of County Commissioners last month approved a new parking ordinance.

Under that new regulation, parking of commercial trucks and trailers, as well as residential trucks and trailers, are prohibited from parking in the right-of-way if the vehicle is capable of carrying more than one ton. The rule also limits parking on the right-of-way to 72 hours, otherwise the vehicle is considered stored and can be ticketed and towed.

But the approval of that new rule also shined new light on an older rule that if enforced to the maximum, could force residential trailer owners to either get rid of the trailer or build an enclosed garage to house it.

“The ordinance has been in place since 1985,” said Growth Management Director Christine Hurley. “It’s not something new.”

What the commission did with the approval, she said, is revert enforcement of the residential parking ordinance to county code enforcement rather than to the Sheriff’s office.

“The Sheriff’s Office said they would not enforce parking on private property, so to be able to cite under the ordinance, we had to put it back in code where it belongs,” she said.

County Code Enforcement Director Ronda Norman says that property owners have always been cited under the provisions of the ordinance.

“It’s something that’s flown under the radar for a while,” said Hurley.

According to the ordinance, trucks and trailers of greater than one-ton capacity and recreational vehicles more than 42 feet in length and eight-and-a-half feet in width cannot be parked or stored on private property except in a completely enclosed garage.

Recreational vehicles under that size, boat trailers and light-duty utility trailers can be parked on private property within the set backs for that zoning district, although recreational vehicles are limited to one per lot and cannot be used for habitation for any length of time.

If units prohibited by the ordinance aren’t in an enclosed garage, the property owner is subject to code violations.

“What we tried to do was strengthen the ordinance to eliminate those people who are using their property as a junk yard,” said County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy. “And we wanted to be able to act on people using the right-of-way for parking of commercial trucks and equipment.”

The ordinance deals with residential property and can be used to target independent truck owners or small-contractors who park the trucks and trailers at home rather than rent a commercial lot.

“We don’t intend to do any code sweeps looking for these violations,” said Hurley. “But if one comes to our attention, we will enforce the code.”

Property owners who don’t want to get rid of vehicles and trailers that violate the ordinance can put enclosed garages on their property. If the garage is detached from the house, not part of the area under the lowest elevated floor, the garages can be larger than the 299-square-foot maximum for a lower level enclosure.

They will have to meet all the regulations dealing with flood plain requirements, said Hurley, which include flood vents, limited storage ancillary to the principal structure and any power requirements installed above flood plain and cannot be turned into habitable space.

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