GovernmentThe Examiner

Mt. Pleasant to Hold Off on Law Restricting Parking of Larger Vehicles

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A proposed law that would have limited certain types of vehicles from being parked in a house’s front yard in Mount Pleasant will be put on hold after the Town Board heard overwhelming criticisms from residents.

Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said last week that the board will not pursue passage of the local measure following a June 27 public hearing where residents panned the idea because they feared they would be hit with recurring hefty fines for parking in the only space they had for their vehicles.

Since the law would negatively impact too many people, town officials hope to have homeowners comply with Mount Pleasant’s property maintenance law rather than an outright prohibition on parking boats, buses, freight trucks, vans, campers, recreational vehicles or any other vehicle that would be used for storage, living or sleeping. Unregistered vehicles would have also needed to follow the law.

“We’re going to ask people to handle this on a case-by-case basis,” Fulgenzi said. “If a neighbor has a complaint with another neighbor, if we can work something out between the two of them, maybe put up a fence and cover it in some way so it’s not as obvious to the neighbor. But to do a blanket requirement like that, we don’t think it’s going to be fair.”

The board pursued the law after receiving several complaints about how certain residential properties were seen as unsightly by having larger vehicles permanently parked or stored in full view of other residents. As proposed, there would have been a $250 fine per incident.

However, at last month’s hearing close to 10 residents, many of them owners of RVs, argued that there would be inequities for those homeowners who don’t have a side driveway or a large enough property. They would have to go to the expense and the hassle of storing it off site.

Sherman Avenue resident Jeanette Spoor said her 24-foot recreational vehicle has been parked in front of her house for years without it generating any complaints from neighbors or other residents. With her property’s topography, the only place to keep the vehicle is in front, she said.

“There is no way I can park it anyplace on my actual property because my house is built into the side of a hill,” Spoor said. “So the only flat part of my house is in the front, and where my RV is parked, it’s parked off the road.”

Resident Robert Damato of Chelsea Street said he has two trailers and a 25-foot RV and there would be no place during the time of year when he and his family are using the vehicles to conveniently store them. Over the winter, Damato said he brings the RV to the Dutchess County fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.

“You have to understand you go to Montauk in your RV, you come home after a four-hour drive, where am I supposed to go?” Damato asked the Town Board. “I have to put it in my driveway until I can find where there’s storage, which usually takes a week or so.”

Another resident, Mike McGuinn of Valhalla, said when his children were growing up, using the RV was the only way that they were able to afford a vacation, a situation that other families also face. Furthermore, it’s considered a motor vehicle that is registered and inspected and should be treated similarly to a car, McGuinn contended.

He warned town officials that if the legislation were to be approved and signed into law, there is no telling what the next request would be.

“Just be careful because who knows what next somebody will want reviewed,” McGuinn said.

After hearing the nearly unanimous opposition, board members indicated they needed to weigh the pros and cons of the legislation. Councilwoman Laurie Rogers Smalley, who said she and her husband are RV owners, indicated there was much to think about.

“I’ve been looking at this very, very carefully. I share a lot of your sentiments,” Smalley said. “I understand where the supervisor and my fellow board members are going and all I can say is we’ll look at this from both sides.”

Councilman Tom Sialiano said it appeared to him that the proposal may have gone too far.

“You don’t want government overreach,” Sialiano said at the June 27 hearing. “We’re not voting on a law. As a board, we’ll work in a work session and discuss it in detail.”

Fulgenzi said the town would likely monitor how larger vehicles are being stored on residential property and re-evaluate the situation next spring.

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