City News

Litchfield revisits zoning for boat, RV storage

Options weighed in planning and zoning meeting

Posted

Litchfield Park residents may soon learn the outcome of an issue that’s been reverberating between city departments for the last 18 months: what to do about the storage of recreational vehicles on residential property.

Planning and zoning commissioners took up the issue at a July 12 meeting. Though that meeting was dominated by a separate issue — a planned development at Vástago Epicentro church — several options were discussed ranging from strengthening the existing code, to loosening requirements for RV owners.

READ: Proposed development to repurpose Litchfield church met with opposition

The current rules, laid out in zoning code section 31.04, ‘screening of non-principal uses,’ stipulates that RVs, boats, trailers and similar equipment, 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.”

Watch the full meeting on YouTube below, or click here

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.”

If the strictest interpretation were adopted, owners stowing their recreational vehicles, including RVs, boats and trailers, would need to find a way to fully shield their toys from view.

However, if restrictions are loosened, homeowners will be allowed to stow their recreational vehicles in partial view of neighbors and the public and would allow RVs to be stored closer to the property line than currently allowed.

There appears to be some disagreement among city officials about how to interpret the zoning code currently on the books.

The potential zoning change originates primarily 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 final decision will, again, rest with city council. But before the issue comes before council members, there will be a citizen review process which is expected to begin in August.

Whatever decision is made would not impact stricter guidelines in communities with HOAs.

Madeline Ackley Salazar can be reached at mackley@iniusa.org or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.

HOA, Jason Sanks, planning and zoning, ordinance, city code, RVs, boats, recreational vehicles, Litchfield, Litchfield Park, city council, board of adjustments, zoning administrator