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February 5, 2013

Council debates ordinance change to be ‘business-friendly’

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

Looking to make the community more business-friendly, and legalize a practice already in common use, City Council directed the Planning Commission to conduct a future public hearing to change the ordinance prohibiting the parking of vehicles behind businesses overnight.

The current city zoning ordinance does not allow overnight parking of commercial vehicles unless it is specifically noted in the zone, or based on the type of use. A possible amendment to the ordinance would allow overnight parking of commercial vehicles within the “B” zones.

Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said the current ordinance isn’t strictly enforced in various business sections of the city. The question before City Council at a January study session was whether “that’s something we want to actually legitimize in the ordinance for everybody.”

He said whether a vehicle is allowed or not currently depends on the business and the nature of the vehicle. For a business such as a caterer, he said, they must keep the vehicle parked behind the business. For some businesses like a junk-hauler, the truck is parked “purely for advertising purposes” and must be removed.

“I don’t have a problem if a contractor keeps his truck behind his building … (but) don’t want to park in front for advertising,” said Councilman Chris Vitale.

“I think that if you own a business, you should be able to park your vehicle there,” agreed Councilman Peter Rubino. “To me, that’s common sense. Thinking about in front or maybe on the side, in that case, I could see it as a special-use permit.

“I’m comfortable with it as long as it’s not a Mack truck —  maybe look at size or amount of vehicles.”

The issue was referred back to the Planning Commission, which planned to notify residents who would be affected by the issue of an upcoming public hearing on the matter.

“We feel strongly that it would only be fair to give any and all property owners within 500 feet … the opportunity to voice their opinion,” said Planning Commission member Kathryn Hanson.

Planning Commission member Richard Swanquist told City Council members that he is in favor of a change.

“Make it easier … to get more business to come into the community,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.