Spearfish City Council sends proposed RV, trailer parking ordinance back to P&Z

January 26, 2019

SPEARFISH — It’s back to the drawing board for a proposed ordinance amendment aimed at providing flexibility for property owners in Spearfish to park RVs and trailers in their driveways for longer than 48 hours, the current limit.

The Spearfish City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to send the proposed amendment back to the Planning Commission for further consideration. The commission had recommended the amendment in a split 3-2 vote Jan. 15, with Chairman Barb Zwetzig breaking a tied vote. Commissioners had voiced concerns about the minimum distance for tall vehicles to be parked from the sidewalk or any requirement about tall vehicles having to be backed in to avoid visibility issues when they are moved, as well as consideration height and setback considerations of vehicles in question, as zoning codes have limitations for building height and setbacks for structures.

Assistant City Planner Desirae Mayo presented an overview of the proposed amendment, dealing with the storage and parking of trailers and commercial vehicles.

Current code on the topic reads, “Commercial vehicles and trailers of all types, including travel, boat, camping, and hauling, shall not be parked or stored on any lot occupied by a dwelling or on any lot in any residential district for more than 48 hours unless it is located behind the front yard building line.”

Over the years, residents started utilizing the public boulevard — the area from the back of the curb to the sidewalk — to store such vehicles, but in October, the city council approved a right-of-way management policy that requires RVs, campers, trailers, etc., to be on private property, and not within the public boulevard.

Since then, city staff has sought direction about where these vehicles should be stored and parked, since current code requires RVs, trailers of any type, commercial vehicles, and campers to be stored behind the front building line on a residential property, placing them in either a side yard or a rear yard. City staff previously described that the requirement was written when a typical residential side yard was 12-15 feet wide. Many residences now are built within eight feet of the side property line, meaning that there is not enough space in a side yard to park a trailer or RV.

The city council initiated a text amendment in November, prompting the Planning Commission to begin work on an alternative to the current code, and the proposed amendment would allow the parking of RVs or trailers in front driveways or other locations adjacent to the driveway that are behind the front building line.

Definitions for “building line” and “driveway” are included in the amendment. “Building line” means “an imaginary line at the frontmost part of the building facing the street,” and “driveway” means “a designated location on private property used for parking and ingress and egress to a public street.”

The amendment describes that permitted placement of commercial vehicles and trailers of all types — including travel, boat, camping, and hauling — in residential districts, would be allowed to be parked and stored behind the front property line of a residential property, and between the front property line and the front building line if parked on a driveway or adjacent to the driveway. When parked between the front property line and the front building line, vehicles must be at least 10 feet from the back of the curb; must not extend over the sidewalk; and must not block visibility of the street from an adjacent driveway, the drafted text states.

Following the staff report, Mayor Dana Boke reminded councilmembers that they had the option to approve the first reading of the proposed ordinance, setting a public hearing and second reading for their next meeting, or they could send it back to the Planning Commission for additional consideration.

Councilman Larry Klarenbeek made a motion to refer it back to the commission.

“After Legal and Finance Committee, I’ve had second thoughts, and I’d like to see some more revisions,” he said.

Councilman George Martin seconded the motion.

During discussion, Councilman Dan Hodgs asked whether Klarenbeek had specific items of concern.

“My thought it, having them in the driveway, I just don’t think for the neighborhood that that’s very ideal, so I’d like other options coming forward to us,” Klarenbeek said, adding that he preferred the current language in the ordinance to the proposed amendment.

Martin agreed, describing that there are different housing developments throughout Spearfish, some with larger yards and some with houses much closer together.

“To add a big RV parked out there in front … it blocks the view, it totally ruins the view … I personally don’t like any of it, and I’d like just see them go back to the old verbiage and leave it be,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to send the proposed ordinance back to the Planning Commission for further consideration. Councilman John Lee was absent.

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