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RV parking restrictions OK'd; current owners exempted

After realizing that Crestwood aldermen were split 4-4 over whether a proposed ordinance restricting the parking of recreational vehicles should apply to current owners, Ward 3 Alderman "Bernie'' Alexander conceded the measure would not be approved without a "grandfather'' clause.

"I get the consensus from this board that this bill will not pass without a grandfather clause. We're at four and four,'' Alexander, who proposed the ordinance, said during the Nov. 11 Board of Aldermen meeting. "If we address a grandfather clause, there is one small change that I'd like to propose in the grandfather clause and it's one that I think just makes good sense and doesn't inhibit anyone's private rights. When we say in the clause that they may purchase a new RV, boat or trailer, I would like it to be same kind and same size.

"For example, I don't think it's fair if we are outlawing future RVs in this city, that someone should go from a 25-foot RV to a 32-foot RV. They may replace what they have, but they can't go from a 12-foot boat to a 27-foot RV if they're grandfathered,'' she added.

Though Alexander's amendment to the ordinance did not appease all eight aldermen, the amendment and the ordinance were approved with a 6-2 vote at the meeting, which was attended by more than 100 residents.

Under the ordinance, recreational vehicles, boats, trailers and motorized construction vehicles must be stored in an enclosed area or on an asphalt, concrete or paving-stone surface in the side or rear yard behind the front building line of a residence.

Furthermore, such vehicle accessories as campers, camper shells, luggage racks or sports equipment racks must be stored in an enclosed area or attached to a licensed vehicle.

But the parking restrictions in the ordinance will not apply to residents who currently own recreational vehicles, boats and trailers and register their vehicles with the city by Dec. 31.

Besides Alexander, voting to approve the ordinance were Ward 1 Alderman Richard LaBore, Ward 2 Alderman Gary Vincent, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, Ward 4 Alderman Tom Fagan and Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe. Opposed were Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding and Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox.

Alexander first had raised the issue of recreational vehicle parking during the "future issues'' part of a board meeting earlier this year. At the Oct. 28 meeting, Alexander, Vincent, Fagan and Duwe had voiced their opposition to a grandfather clause. Alexander last week sought to amend the proposed ordinance to include a grace period in which the parking restrictions for recreational vehicles, boats and trailers would not apply until Jan. 1, 2006.

However, that effort was not successful and when aldermen deadlocked 4-4 on a motion by LaBore to remove the Jan. 1, 2006, date, the ordinance reverted to its original form that included the grandfather provision for current owners of recreational vehicles, boats and trailers.

During the discussion of the ordinance last week, LaBore said, "... I think the compromise that I would be comfortable with and would urge you to do is to delete the one phrase in here which is the nub of this paragraph and that is Jan. 1, 2006, and I'll make a motion to amend that in a moment.

"The removal of the vehicles that are a concern will not happen right away. It will take some years for that to happen, but it will eventually happen. In the meantime, those who own them at least continue their peace of mind and any new residents moving into the city will know the ball game before they move in. It still seems that that is the best middle ground position. I urge you to consider that. In that spirit, I'll fly the flag everybody is waiting to salute or shoot. I move that we amend Alderman Alexander's motion by deleting the reference to calendar date, the phrase until Jan. 1, 2006,'' LaBore said.

After Fagan said he would oppose the motion, Vincent said, "I'm going to vote against the amendment as well. I agree with Alderman Fagan that it really takes any substance out of this ordinance if we get rid of the provision, the grace period totally, and allow the current owners ad infinitum to keep their RVs and boats and trailers on their property.

"It seems to me that virtually every ordinance that we pass has some impact on people here and if we're going to hold as our standard that we won't pass any ordinance that has an adverse impact on any current property owner, we're never going to get any place. And if we kept that up, we might as well not show up here. I think that that theory that we don't affect any current property owners in the ordinances we pass is just, doesn't hold substance to what we've done in the past or in the years I've been here and what we hope to do in the future.

"One of the things that we've talked about as a board is an ordinance that would regulate rental properties and I know Alderman Breeding has indicated he's in favor of such an ordinance. Well certainly if that ordinance is going to have any impact, it's going to have to deal with people who own properties here in the city of Crestwood now. So I think this theory that let's not hurt anybody, let's not affect anybody, let's not have any impact on people who currently are residents or currently own property here, I think that theory doesn't hold water. And I also think and I know that some people here are going to come up and they're going to be the hard case. The case that, you know, I've spent money doing this or that and I have sympathy for those people, but I don't think we should make our laws based upon the hard case. We need to consider the citizens of the city as a whole when we move forward on things like this and that's why I'm against this amendment proposed by Alderman LaBore,'' Vincent said.

Breeding said, "But if it creates a hardship and changes the way you've lived your life for 50 years, then I think you need to think twice about it ...''

Trueblood said, "... Philosophically, I have a problem making something illegal tomorrow that's legal today. I really do because it just strikes me as almost a parallel to Prohibition. One day it was legal to have a beer down at the brewery and the next day it wasn't and it was the same action. I have a hard time passing something that would make this six years down the road illegal.

"However, I know through Father Time and attrition things do change and that the folks who own the property and equipment in question will just by nature of human beings no longer have that equipment there and it will eventually rectify itself. And since this is a radical change and it is making something 'illegal' that is legal today, I would have to support the amendment as offered by Alderman LaBore, which would be no expiration date for the current owners of the vehicles as listed ...,'' he added.

Aldermen deadlocked 4-4 on the motion and later voted 6-2 to approve the ordinance with the grandfather clause that includes Alexander's amendment stipulating current owners of recreational vehicles, boats and trailers can replace those items as long as they are "of the same kind and general size and character.''

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