Columbus police officers and other city officials will now be able to issue parking violation tickets on private property.
On Tuesday, the Columbus City Council approved an amendment to the city’s ordinance regarding parked vehicles, boats, trailers and recreational vehicles. The amendment places parking rules and regulations previously found only in the city’s zoning ordinance into the municipal code.
“The purpose of this amendment is to make it easier for Columbus Police Department and code enforcement to issue tickets and fines for those property owners who aren’t in compliance,” said Mary Ferdon, the city’s executive director of administration and community development.
Before the ordinance was amended Tuesday, the city was required to go through a two-to-three month process involving the Board of Zoning Appeals before action could be taken against a parking violation only listed in the zoning ordinance.
Now, with the new amendment, code enforcement officer Fred Barnett or a law enforcement officer can immediately ticket the individual if necessary.
Ferdon said the goal of the amendment isn’t to collect more fines. Rather, it’s being proposed simply so problems can be addressed more efficiently.
“Fining is always our last resort, and isn’t something we want to do,” Ferdon said at the Nov. 19 city council meeting. Ferdon and several council members noted Barnett’s ability to resolve code enforcement issues simply by talking to the responsible party, making them aware of a violation before any action is taken.
Many regulations deal specifically with recreational vehicles that include:
RVs cannot be parked without wheels, or be permanently affixed to the ground.
RVs must be stored either behind or alongside a permanent structure on a property.
No more than two RVs can be stored on a residential property at any time.
If an RV is brought in to accommodate temporary visitors, it cannot stay on that property longer than seven consecutive days or 14 days annually.
In no instance shall an RV be occupied or used for sleeping, living or housekeeping purposes, except for short-term use by visitors.
District 2 Councilwoman Elaine Wagner voted against the amendment Tuesday, asking council members to consider changing the amendment to allow property owners to store well-maintained, operable recreational vehicles in front of their home, such as on a concrete driveway in front of a house.
“I have neighbors who have RVs in their driveways, but it’s not blocking the sidewalk, they’re really nice, well-maintained RVs, it’s not blocking the sight line for the street,” Wagner said. “On the sides of their house, they don’t have room to park the RV. They would be fined?”
Ferdon said the ordinance does prohibit any RV from being stored in a driveway or anywhere in front of a home. The new amendment, however, only deals with the enforcement of the ordinance — who can take action against a violation.
“If it’s a run-down, dilapidated, inoperable vehicle of any kind, I have issue with that,” Wagner said. “But if it’s something people are maintaining really well and it’s operable and they use it, I don’t think there’s an issue with people storing it in their driveways, especially if it’s not blocking sight lines.”
Councilman at-large Tom Dell said by allowing one, they would be allowing all of them.
“You either don’t allow them or you allow all of them,” Dell said. “Whether they’re in good shape, bad shape, inoperable or operable. Once you open it up, you almost open it up to all of them. Aesthetics can’t be a part of the situation.”
District 1 Councilman Dascal Bunch told Wagner that while she may not have an issue with it, a resident in another housing addition may have an RV parked in their driveway that their neighbors can’t stand.
Wagner said she would be in full support of the amended ordinance if it allowed residents to park their operable and licensed RVs in front of their private property if parked on a hard surface and not blocking sidewalks or sight lines.
District 3 Councilman David Bush said the intent of the amendment at hand Tuesday was to modify how it’s enforced — not to modify the actual ordinance itself. He said he didn’t see a reason to change the original intent of the ordinance.
Wagner said she understood but said she didn’t want to dictate what people may do on their private property.
“These were just voices I heard so I felt obligated that I needed to bring them and make sure they were expressed,” Wagner said.
The amended ordinance passed, 5-1, with Wagner voting no. District 4 Councilman Frank Miller was absent from the meeting.
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The amendment places parking rules and regulations previously found only in the city’s zoning ordinance into the municipal code.
Before the ordinance was amended Tuesday, if there was a parking violation only listed in the zoning ordinance, the city was required to go through a two-to-three month process involving the Board of Zoning Appeals before action could be taken.
Now, with the amendment, code enforcement officer Fred Barnett or a law enforcement officer can immediately ticket the property owner if necessary.