Marion ordinance would end vehicle parking on front lawns

The Marion City Council expressed unanimous support during its Jan. 4 meeting for a new ordinance that addresses the issue of vehicles being parked on residential front lawns.

City Administrator Roger Holter said the issue is becoming enough of a concern by citizens and the police department that it required direction from the council.

?The way our current city code is written, the only enforcement we have is if we observe somebody driving over the curb in order to place the vehicle in the front yard,? Holter said.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit parking vehicles on front lawns between a structure and the curb, and a corner lot that has two front lawns.

?We are not looking to address the backyard,? he said.

Holter said he talked with Police Chief Tyler Mermis and three of the five police officers, who all agreed changes need to be made.

Councilor Jerry Kline asked Mermis for his input.

?We?ve got to do something different,? Mermis said. ?(The officers) are tired of driving down the street and being unable to enforce someone?s junk in their yard.?

In addition to the aesthetics, Holter said, police and residents see this as a safety problem, too.

?If there are vehicles parked, particularly in an area where children are, there are issues with line of sight,? he said.

The zoning regulations were changed, he said, to require a 35-foot vision triangle at every corner. If vehicles are blocking the line of sight, children could step out in the street and a driver might not have time to react.

?Parking in the front yard is creating the same type of situation,? he said. ?It may not be the corner house doing it, but one house in (from the corner) could have a 22-foot vehicle blocking the entire corner of what would normally be this line of sight.?

Holter said it?s unfortunate the city has to legislate issues of this nature.

?I believe the investment most people make in their homes, which generally is the largest investment of their life, would mean taking appropriate steps to preserve that value,? Holter said.

Councilor Chad Adkins said he knows of several places in the Jex Addition where this ordinance could be a problem.

?People with trailers have to have somewhere to park them (if it can?t be in the front or back yards),? Adkins said. ?And, if we eliminate all the parking, we are now talking about cluttering up the street.?

Holter said trailers can?t be parked on city streets because the city has an ordinance associated with travel trailers, utility trailers or any of those types of vehicles.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said he would be in favor of the ordinance.

?I just want to make sure we have our terminology right and not conflicting with other codes,? he said.

When the city was designed, Heitschmidt said, there were only horses and carriages.

?When we started building houses, families had a one-car garages, if they were lucky,? he said. ?Today, we are at a point that everybody with a (drivers) license has a vehicle, and those properties still have one-car garages or less. Some are now bedrooms.?

Even though some homeowners don?t have adequate storage, he said, parking vehicles on the front lawn cannot be condoned.

According to the ordinance, fines would be on an annual basis with the first conviction costing $100 plus court costs. The second conviction within a calendar year would carry a $200 fine and third fine would cost $300 plus three days in jail.

The only vehicle exception would be golf carts, which could still be parked in front. Holter said motorcycles are considered a motor vehicle.

The council will consider approving the ordinance at its Jan. 18 meeting.

?Every decision affects our friends and neighbors,? Holter said, ?and this is the attempt to hold true to a government by, for and of the people.?

Residents with questions or needing clarification on the proposed ordinance can call council members or the city office at 620-382-3703.

Written By
More from Patty Decker
Roads discussion dominates County Commission talk
A report about county roads took center stage at the Marion County...
Read More