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Published: Tuesday, 6/4/2013

Committee discards zero-tolerance vehicle storage code

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A zero-tolerance code for recreational vehicle storage is off the table, and instead Sylvania City Council will review new recommendations, including adding a permit process for vehicles that are exceptions to the code.

The Sylvania City Council met for a Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday night to review new recommendations regarding how residents store their recreational vehicles on home property, a month after residents at a public hearing called for a zero-tolerance policy to be implemented.

City Service Director Kevin Aller presented several recommendations that he, the Zoning Administrator Robert Oberly, and administration made based on researching the codes of nearby communities.

The memo listed nine storage methods including implementing a 20-foot length restriction on RVs or boats, similar to the code language before it was changed in 2010.

Another recommendation would extend the days allowed for an RV to be parked in a driveway for unloading and loading purposes to 72 hours from the current 48.

The original proposal required a 5-foot setback from the property line and 3-foot setback on a side yard. One of the recommendations extends the setback to 7 feet from all property lines.

Councilman Doug Haynam, who toured the city to assess the situation, said he saw some bad examples of the code in use, however he also came across homes that stored vehicles on a cement pad in an “unobtrusive way,” specifically on Balfour Road.

“I doubt anyone would be concerned about that storage activity,” he said. He asked Law Director James Moan if it would be within the charter to have a permit process in place for those residents that might have exceptions to the code regulations.

Mr. Moan pointed out the sign code, which calls for a permit application process.

However, councilmen still voiced concerns over how to handle side lots, which a few residents on corner lots might use as a loophole to store a vehicle that is obstructing the view of their neighbors.

“I would like a definition of what is a corner lot.... When you have a corner lot with a large RV parked, it not only affects the neighbors that live on either side, it affects the neighbors across the street of the corner lot, alongside the corner lot,” Councilman Mike Brown said.

Mr. Aller said, when a home is constructed the homeowner decides what is the front of the house and what is deemed as the side yard, which then determines the back yard.

As the conversation progressed, Councilman Mark Luetke said that with the new recommendations presented to council, the issue should go back to the Zoning and Annexation Committee for review.

“It’s difficult to take information that we just got this afternoon and make some sense of it,” Mr. Luetke said.

Mr. Luetke agreed that the permit process should be considered.

“But we have to be careful if that was imposed, what do we do with the people that are already storing an RV,” Mr. Luetke said after the meeting. Mr. Luetke had said in previous meetings that Sylvania homeowners have a tradition of storing boats on their property.

Mr. Brown asked the councilmen to think about striking a balance between the rights of the homeowners that live around those homes with those who have the RVs stored on their property.

“I don’t want to take away anyone’s rights that own an RV or home, but we need appropriate legislation that protects their rights and property value,” he said.

Of the cities reviewed for the new recommendations, including Sylvania Township, Oregon, Monclova, Perrysburg, and Ottawa Hills, Ottawa Hills was the only city that had a zero-tolerance policy, Mr. Oberly said.

The Zoning and Annexation Committee will further review the matter at 8 a.m. June 18.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or ntrusso@theblade.com.



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