Litchfield Park's planning and zoning commission voted Oct. 11 to clarify the city's ordinance on the storage of recreational vehicles, opting to adopt the strictest possible interpretation.
The ordinance, if adopted by city council, will mean that Litchfield residents stowing Rvs, boats, trailers or similar equipment on their property must find a way to shield their toys from view, or store them off-site.
The issue has been reverberating between city departments for the last 18 months and started with an “aggrieved neighbor” who complained to the city’s code enforcement department that an RV was visible from the owner’s property.
In response, the city’s zoning administrator compiled what the city calls a “zoning interpretation,” a draft that clarified the current code.
But that interpretation was appealed by the same neighbor, and was taken to the city’s board of adjustments, which sided with the complainant.
The BOA stated that the current code should be “implemented in its plainest form” and that RVs stored on residential lots should be fully screened from view.
“Our understanding is the intent of council many years ago was that they didn't really want large recreational vehicles stored on residential lots,” city planning consultant Jason Sanks said at the July 12 meeting.
“They preferred them to be stored off-site in RV storage facilities. Same goes with boats and other pieces of large equipment,” Sanks said.
The current rules, layed out in zoning code section 31.04, ‘screening of non-principal uses,’ stipulates that recreational vehicles must be stored in the rear and side yards and “shall be completely screened from view adjacent and nearby properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence not to exceed six feet in height or dense landscaping.”
It also states that recreational vehicles that exceed six feet in height “shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height from any side or rear property line.”
The new draft language clarifies that equipment must be completely screened from view "by adjacent and nearby properties" and that "dense landscaping" used to screen equipment "is not subject to height limitations."
The commission voted 5-1 to approve the new language with one abstention.
Commissioners David Ledyard, Robert Darre, Andrew Fraser, Debra Lawrence and Vickilyn Alvey all voted in favor of the new language. Michael Faith voted against the measure and Brian O'Connor abstained from voting.
Whatever decision is made will not impact stricter guidelines in communities with HOAs.
As of Oct. 14, the zoning code amendment is not listed as a discussion or action item on the agenda for Litchfield Park's next city council meeting on Oct. 19.
Madeline Ackley Salazar can be reached at email@example.com or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.