There was a packed house at Tuesday’s Osceola City Council meeting with the majority of the people present concerned about the proposed Osceola city ordinance regarding the location of boats, trailers and campers in yards.
However, it was a specific section recently added to the ordinance addressing cars parked on lawns that had the majority of people against the proposed ordinance.
The section about grass parking in the ordinance would not allow personal vehicles, including passenger cars, pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles, to park anywhere on a lawn. Vehicles would have to be parked on a defined driveway, whether it’s gravel, concrete or asphalt.
After listening to many citizens, the city council approved striking the personal-vehicles amendment in the ordinance.
Then, the council approved the first reading of the boats, trailers and campers ordinance as amended.
Zoning administrator Dave Leonard said campers, trailers and boats have to be back five feet from the property line in the front yard if there is a sidewalk. If there isn’t a sidewalk, campers, boats and trailers don’t have to be back five feet.
“They can be right up to the property,” Leonard said.
A full version of the ordinance can be found on the city of Osceola’s website at www.osceolaia.govoffice2.com.
The grass parking and personal vehicles section that was taken out of the ordinance is currently listed on the website as section seven in the ordinance.
Personal vehicles and grass parking may have been taken out of the proposed ordinance, but it’s still an issue.
Leonard said the personal vehicles section that was formerly in the ordinance wasn’t about somebody washing their car in their yard or having a birthday party and with cars in the yard.
“We’ve all driven around town. We’ve all seen, you know, sometimes it’s at a single family, sometimes it’s a multifamily, and you’ve got, at a regular basis, anywhere from four to six or eight cars parked there,” he said. “They’re all licensed and running. They operate. They’re being utilized. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that’s what was proposed to us, was if you’re going to deal with this issue, deal with the whole issue.”
Council member Glenn Schaff said the city of Osceola isn’t Pleasant Hill or Des Moines.
“This is Osceola, and people like to live, they buy those properties to live in, and now we’re telling them what they can put in their yard and what they can’t,” Schaff said, “and the next thing you’re going to do is telling them what color they’re going to paint their house.”
As the discussion between the council continued, council member David Walkup said the problem is there are too many vehicles and the streets need to be safe.
“That’s our society right now. My wife’s got a vehicle. I’ve got a vehicle. We used to drive together. We don’t do that anymore,” he said. “I can remember when I had three kids and they were all at home. We had five vehicles. That’s too many vehicles. … I don’t know what I would do right now if I had five vehicles at my house.”
Council member Sarah Truitt said it’s a property-rights issue, and she believes the personal-vehicle issue oversteps boundaries.
“If there was a safety concern or something, I could completely understand,” Truitt said, “and that’s what we were taking care of with, I think, with the purpose of the boats and trailers ordinance, was to make sure that there weren’t kids running out into the street around trailers or things. That is a matter of importance. I just want to make sure we’re looking at the whole picture and why we’re doing this.”
Step by step
Council member Chris Dorsey said he’s seen multiple cars on the road and in yards, and if they’re taken out of the yard, they’ll be put on the street.
“We started on campers, let’s take care of the campers, and then let’s move on. … The planning and zoning is doing a fine job. Let’s just take it one piece at a time and then try to develop a plan step one, step two, step three.”