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A proposal to ban parking of recreational vehicles in residential areas of Overland Park, Kan., failed by a vote of 8-4 at the Nov. 20 meeting of the city council. The council plans to discuss the matter again in May, according to the Kansas City Star.
The proposal would have put the city on the road toward ridding itself completely of the vehicles, which the ordinance described as “unsafe, unsanitary and unsightly” when stored or parked improperly.
It would have prohibited new RVs, boats, campers and trailers taller than eight feet and required existing RV owners to register vehicles with the city and relinquish them if they move to a different house. It also would have required solid fencing or vegetation to screen vehicles and limited parking only beside or behind a home but inside required setbacks for the yard.
Dissenters said the proposal was overly restrictive, but most agreed some additional regulations are needed for RVs.
Shirley Christopher, who has lived in Overland Park for 44 years and owned seven Airstream trailers and two motorhomes, said she guessed the instigators of the proposed ordinance had never experienced the “thrill and the freedom” of RV travel.
She said the proposal unfairly targeted a specific demographic – people who choose not to live where homes associations already prohibit RVs. She currently owns a 37-foot motorhome she parks on her property.
“You’re really penalizing those of us who chose to live in a small house, in a neighborhood we could afford,” Christopher said.
Miles Graham, a resident, said well-kept RVs and trailers people use to make a living should be left alone. A part of the ordinance addresses commercial vehicles.
“Why not pick on the people that have disrepaired vehicles?” Graham said. “Slowly but surely our rights are being peeled away.”
Council member David White said the ordinance did seem to isolate a certain group of people. He said the city should look for a way to regulate abusers but that the proposed ordinance had too many problems.
Council member Jim Hix said he didn’t want to suddenly turn rule-abiding RV owners into violators, causing them to incur extra expense to comply when they hadn’t changed anything.
Several residents complained that screening and off-site storage options would be too costly.
Council member Terry Goodman, however, was adamant that the ordinance was needed and that it did not unduly infringe on current RV owners. He said the ordinance would help provide the same quality of aesthetics to all neighborhoods in the city. Goodman said he would not want to live next door to a large RV and that other residents should be protected, too.
“This is a widespread problem,” he said. “Offensive examples are easy to find.”
Skip Moon, Overland Park community services section manager, said he gets many complaints about unattractive vehicles but that, as the current ordinance is written now, most aren’t in violation.
Mayor Carl Gerlach said the council should pinpoint the intent of the ordinance when it’s revisited.
“There’s ugly things out there – really ugly things out there,” he said. “That is what we really need to address.”