In a case of “not in my backyard” turned “not in your front yard,” Forest Acres residents and officials are trying to decide how to rewrite a zoning law that restricts what items can sit in lawns in residential areas.
Complaints about unsightly items parked in yards typically are directed at landscaping businesses based out of people’s homes, city administrator Mark Williams said.
Jim Testor has complained for two years, he said, about a landscaping storage trailer parked in his neighbor’s front yard.
“We’re not out to put people out of business,” Testor said. “We want people to be successful, but not at our expense and not doing it the right way. If you’ve got equipment ... store it some other place, but not in your front yard.”
City officials are trying to strike a balance between maintaining the character of residential areas while not placing burdensome restrictions.
Already, the city forbids any trucks or trailers that are used for commercial purposes and measure more than 19 feet in length from being parked in the front or side yards of residences. Also forbidden from parking in front and side yards are campers, recreational vehicles, boats and boat trailers.
Forest Acres officials have considered revising this law both to broaden the types of equipment not allowed on front and side lawns – to include forklifts, backhoes and similar equipment – and to loosen the length restriction on trucks and trailers up to 22 feet.
But some residents told City Council members Tuesday they worry restrictions aimed at curbing uncourteous businesses could have negative effects on otherwise well-meaning neighbors.
Consider visitors who arrive in an RV and stay a few days or business owners who need to load up a truck the night before a job, several residents pointed out.
“I don’t want people having equipment in their front yard either; I really don’t,” said resident John Crutchfield. “My concern is if I go to the lake Saturday night with my 23-foot boat, and I bring it home so I can clean it the next day, getting a ticket for having my boat in my driveway before I take it back to storage. That would be a concern probably for a lot of people.”
City leaders said they recognize there must be balance in how the law is rewritten.
Officials will make another go at rewriting the ordinance before bringing it back for more public input in several weeks.