City votes down RV restrictions


Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 12:38 a.m.

A dispute between neighbors could have cost hundreds of Gainesville residents more money in storage fees for their boats and recreation vehicles.

After a neighbor complained to Gainesville city officials last year that Dwight Edgar's boat and RV, both 35 feet long, were eyesores, the city began looking into new restrictions on where RV owners could park their vehicles.

Facing questions on property rights and whether a restriction would be effective, the City Commission voted 6-1 Monday night against drafting an ordinance that would have more strictly regulated where homeowners can park their RVs.

The proposed ordinance would have:

  • Banned RV owners from parking vehicles more than 16 feet long in their front yards.

  • Allowed guests to park an RV for as many as 14 days, if side and backyard parking was not available.

  • Allowed RVs to be parked in front of houses no more than one day a week for maintenance or loading.

    Commissioner Craig Lowe voted against killing the proposal.

    He said the ban would have helped preserve neighborhoods' character.

    "Basically, it is an aesthetics issue, and it comes from the same reasoning that we don't let mobile homes just anywhere in the city," he said.

    Commissioner Ed Braddy said the city shouldn't create a new ordinance based on a single complaint.

    "How comfortable are you that your sense of aesthetics is superior to that of the RV owner and neighbors (who don't complain)?" he asked.

    City regulations now require RVs to be parked inside enclosed structures, or on side or back yards. If an owner doesn't have an enclosed structure or enough yard space, RVs can be parked in front of houses.

    The city averages fewer than two complaints a year about RVs parked in front of houses, according to Gainesville's codes enforcement department.

    Had the city approved the ordinance, Edgar would have built a large metal building around his boat and RV, which would have been clearly visible from the road.

    He showed commissioners a photograph of the vehicles parked beside his house.

    "Would that be any more objectionable than what you see here?" he said.

    Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or rowlana@gvillesun.com.

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