Considering quality of life versus maintaining relaxed enforcement, the County Board of Commissioners debated the merits of banning parking vehicles on the lawn at Thursday night’s meeting, ultimately voting to leave it an option for unincorporated residents.
Pitched by Commissioner Charles Rousseau, the ordinance amendment would bring back a prohibition against parking vehicles on the lawn at residential properties two acres or smaller. The proposal was aimed at protecting property values and neighborhood pride.
“In some of our subdivisions, particularly in some that have aged or do not have the benefit of an HOA, I think we have some responsibility to assist those neighbors in making sure their communities stay viable, their property values stay up,” he said.
Revisiting the old ordinance would provide added enforcement options, especially in older communities where renters are more prevalent.
“It is very difficult to issue a citation to an out-of-state owner, and a renter is there, to get them to comply, with high grass, with wild animals that begin to overcome properties of that nature,” he said. “It takes us an arm and a leg, and in most cases and arm and two legs, when we have to track down the owner to take them to court to get them to comply with an ordinance.”
Commissioner Steve Brown shared the concern over renters failing to maintain properties.
“Some of the renters, because they don’t own the property, they don’t have a stake in the community like a regular homeowner would, they don’t care,” he said, noting that when they don’t care you begin to see cars in the front yard and taller lawns, leading to longtime residents leaving. “You start to see decline in that subdivision, and people start bailing out.”
They were met with resistance from the other three commissioners. Calling parking on lawns part of the culture of the county, Commissioner Charles Oddo said he wasn’t sure why the ordinance renewal was necessary and if the county was overstepping its bounds.
“We’re changing something that I don’t believe needs to be changed,” he said. “I’m concerned about where we draw the line when the county starts functioning as an HOA.”
Public reaction to the proposal was mixed.
Yvonne Smith thanked Rousseau for his willingness to help communities keep their residents accountable. She called it an opportunity to nip small problems in the bud before they can grow out of control.
“If you don’t do this, believe me, there’s so much more than can happen later,” she said.
Jason Chastain said he was worried that, while this proposal was for smaller lots, that larger tracts of rural land could be targeted later.
“I’m concerned that it’s going to start out small and it’s going to grow,” he said of the ordinance.
The status quo will remain, as the proposal failed with Maxwell, Oddo, and Ognio voting in opposition.