Caught on the blade of a dilemma

Is parking on lawns a resident’s right or a trashy wrong?

Staff writer

A woman parks her car on the lawn to unload groceries on a hot day and leaves it there. A resident with a one-car driveway parks a car beside the driveway to not block a family member, who has to leave early for work. A resident owns four cars and parks them in the front lawn for months on end. Are these problems?

Many Marion residents think yes.

“That’s why we have driveways and garages,” Mary Kremeier of Marion said.

“I would say no parking of any vehicles on the front lawn,” Jackie Volbrecht of Marion said. “it looks tacky.”

Mike Carroll of Marion said neighbors down the street park all over their front yard, and despite them mowing once a week, it still looks unsightly.

Some have brought the issue to members of the city council and administrator Roger Holter.

“I’ve had several calls about it,” Holter said.

He plans to recommend the city enact an ordinance that will comply with city building code stating each residential property must have at least a minimum of three parking spaces not located in streets. The spaces must contain gravel, concrete, or some type of surface other than only grass and dirt.

There is an ordinance that bans parking of semi trailers without a permit on lawns. Another bans the parking of inoperable or junked, or registered vehicles for more than 30 days without being enclosed.

If two or more residents file a complaint, the police will notify the resident, which has 10 days to correct the problem or receive a ticket up to $100. Residents who want to contest the notice can file for a hearing with the council.

But is this ordinance enough? When asked on social media what residents thought of vehicles in lawns, nearly all who responded said junked vehicles should not be permitted in public view.

However, there were various opinions about vehicles that are operational.

Sheila Williams of Marion said she has a driveway that goes into her lawn on her property and she usually parks a vehicle there.

“While killing your entire lawn by parking all over it isn’t the best idea and doesn’t look the best, those who want to issue ordinances against it should realize if it’s the person’s property they have the right to park where they want,” she said. “If people want those kinds of rules then they should live in a development with a home owners association.”

Sherry Hess of Marion said she hoped the council could settle on common ground.

“There are many things unpleasant to each of us, yet shouldn’t we try to get along,” she said. “I parked in the grass alongside my driveway when we were town dwellers because there were no other parking besides that one driveway and we had three vehicles. I felt I owed it to my neighbors to keep the street clear and safer.”

Middle ground might be found by combining pieces of Hillsboro’s new parking-on-lawn ordinance, and Marion’s current ordinance.

Hillsboro passed a law in May that prohibits parking on lawns by anyone except repair people while working. City Administrator Larry Paine said out of the 20 notices the city has issued, only one resident received a citation after it was found his vehicle was inoperable.

“The ordinance has been good in that we have an image we want for the city and the ordinance helps us achieve that,” Paine said.

Hillsboro council member Byron McCarty said some neighbors think people parking regularly in lawns hurts property values, which was one reason behind the initial ordinance.

“Does it harm anyone? Probably not, but it does look trashy and that has to be the biggest issue,” he said.

He said that while the ordinance has been effective, there are some kinks that need to be addressed and amended, like a longer period for residents to move vehicles.

“Some vehicles might not run and it takes time to find someone to help move them,” he said. “Sometimes in emergencies people may need to park on their lawn. Snow removal comes to mind. In addition, some houses in town do not have a driveway. There are few but some don’t.”

“This town needs jobs, businesses, industry, revenue,” Williams said. “Why is anyone wasting time on people parking in their own yard? This is the problem with this city, county, state, nation — people foolishly waste time and energy on things that are not important issues.

“When are people are people going to get a clue and realize that it doesn’t matter how many cars park on yards of if the streets are all pretty. If there’s no industry or business in the town it will die.”

Parking on lawns will be a topic of discussion at the next council meeting July 21.

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