The Dover, (Del.), City Council has passed on first reading an ordinance that would make it illegal to park a recreational vehicle, trailer or boat longer than 35 feet in a residential zone for more than 24 hours, according to The News Journal.
Vehicles and boats less than 35 feet long would have to be parked in a garage or behind the house, and would have to be a minimum of 5 feet from the side and rear property lines.
The proposal has been sent to the city Planning Commission, which will consider the ordinance at its Dec. 18 meeting and make a recommendation to the full council. The council is expected to vote on it in late January or early February.
The ordinance was hammered out by a council subcommittee after a series of public meetings this summer. Those meetings were prompted by public reaction to enforcement of the existing ordinance, which officials say is ineffective and loophole-ridden.
“We had public input every time we met,” said Councilman Kenneth L. Hogan, who chairs the Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee.
“We developed a proposal, went to the safety committee. They had questions, asked for more information, and they made a couple of changes,” Hogan said.
The aim, Hogan said, is to “develop an ordinance that is fair and enforceable and clearly understood.”
Dover resident James L. Fogell, who hauls his camper and boat to Virginia’s Eastern Shore each summer, estimates it would cost him $1,000 to store his vehicles off-site.
“I’m retired. I’m 72 years old, and I might as well sell my units. That’s taking away my camping money then.”
Smaller vehicles that could be parked outside would have to be parked behind an opaque fence; no more than one such vehicle could be stored outside a garage; and they would have to be parked on an improved surface such as concrete or gravel.
There would be some wiggle room for people who could not meet the 5-foot property line requirement. Owners could apply for a waiver that would allow them to park their boats or vehicles within 3 feet of the property line — but the waiver-application period would expire 60 days after the city gave public notice that the option was in effect.
None of that helps the Fogells, whose lot just can’t accommodate a 17-foot boat and a 29 1/2-foot camper and still leave 5 or even 3 feet to the property line.
“I can get 2 feet, but not 3,” Fogell said.
If the ordinance passes, there is no grandfather clause for people like Fogell — or for the estimated 403 other RV, boat and trailer owners in the city.
However, the council still could change the ordinance or even vote it down.