Council recommends parking ordinance changes
By LYNETTE SOWELL
For the calendar year 2016 through now, there have been 1,700 issues with parking on city streets, Lt. Jeffrey Stoddard told the Copperas Cove city council during Tuesday evening’s workshop.
Stoddard brought the city’s parking ordinance to the council for discussion and direction as to how to craft changes to the city code.
“The parking, the way that it is right now, it’s very hard to enforce. It’s very difficult for us and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Stoddard said. He added that with 1,700 issues with parking alone in a little more than a year is “too much, especially with a city our size.”
Stoddard also said trailers are not marked as well as vehicles are and during the hours of darkness, that’s a traffic hazard for drives on city streets.
He said another consideration would be how to address 72-hour parking violations, for which the department is currently permitted to tow vehicles after owners have been given a written warning.
“It doesn’t say anything about citing. Currently we tag a vehicle for 72 hours,” Stoddard said, adding that chief of police Eddie Wilson is adamant that the general public still have the 72 hours’ warning, that they need to move their vehicle or trailer.
Some members of the council were concerned that contractors or other businesses performing work on properties would encounter difficulties because of their trailers being parked on city streets while on their job sites.
Stoddard said the patrol officers can tell when a trailer is on a job site, as opposed to one that is parked or stored on the street long-term.
Another consideration, both environmental and aesthetic, is the parking of vehicles on property other than a paved driveway. Currently, the ordinance said it must be on an all-weather surface.
“There is no definition of an all-weather surface-but what is that?” George Sinner, senior code compliance officer, asked the council “We need something we can work with, that an all-weather surface is this.”
City planner Charlotte Hitchman said the council also needs to consider what they’d like the city’s yards in residential neighborhoods to look like. Currently if a vehicle is on a concrete block or paver in the front yard, there is nothing the city can do about it.
“That’s why when we get complaints, ‘How are they able to park that in their front yard?’ and ‘It’s just on a paver, there’s not all-weather surface.’ We don’t have anything to back that up because there’s no definition of an all-weather surface.”
The city has already held two public meeting to discuss proposed changes to the city’s parking ordinance, where it concerns 72-hour parking, as well as the parking of RVs and trailers on city streets.
After much discussion at the conclusion of Stoddard’s presentation on Tuesday, Andrea Gardner asked the council to direct the staff “one paver at a time” as to what they wanted the ordinance to say, and reminded them that tonight there were no decisions being made.
As for parking in front yards, the council members concurred proposing no parking in front yards unless it is on paved concrete or asphalt that is attached to the main driveway. As far as in the side yard “paver”, the council proposed that side yard parking would be allowed, with surfaces being a “product constructed of a material that does not create mud during a rainfall.”
The recreational vehicle regulations would be moved from zoning, to the transportation section of the city code. The council agreed to a proposed citation for 72-hour parking violations. Street parking for trailers would also only be allowed on streets if attached to vehicles.
The department will draft ordinance changes to bring back to the council, after which there will be public hearings for stakeholder input, before the council takes a final vote.
“You will have the opportunity to hear all sides of the issue before you adopt an ordinance and then you can decide, this is what you can live with,” Gardner said. “You have to start with something.”
The council also directed Gardner to bring elements from other communities’ parking ordinances back to the council for possible options.
Also on Tuesday, the council declared city-owned private property surplus and authorized throwing all of the property out via the Solid Waste Department. The property includes old chairs, filing cabinets, desks and more from the former police station and Animal Control. Wilson said that all of these items were placed up for auction and no bidders wanted them.
The council held a public hearing and then voted to amend the city’s code of ordinances where it concerns the International Energy Conservation Code.
The Five Hills Art Guild presented a report of activities and expenses related to the group’s March 25 festival held in City Park and the council voted to approve the release of hotel occupancy tax funds in the amount of $3,525.
The council also approved a resolution which states the city’s notice to issue the 2017 certificate of obligation bonds, which total nearly $10 million, at $9,997,419. In the accompanying documentation, city projects to be supported by taxes include $1,136,380 for capital outlay projects, $280,000 in library renovations, $1,965,589 in park improvements, and $1,910,000 in transportation improvement projects. More than $3 million of the CO funding will be spent on water and sewer line replacements and improvements, a UV disinfection system at the northeast wastewater treatment plant, with $743,000 of funding dedicated to the capital outlay plan supported by the solid waste fund. A little more than $200,000 in funding will be supported by the golf course fund.
The present location of the city’s utility department at 305 S. Main St. was up for discussion during executive session on Tuesday evening, but the council made no announcement nor took any action on that item after the session.