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Backyard parking compliance countdown begins

November 28, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Now that the Marshalltown City Council has passed the resolution limiting back and side yard parking, residents have until September 2013 to get their properties in compliance.

That means, if residents park in their back or side yards in a single-family home, they must now have two or fewer cars parked on gravel, asphalt or concrete and must have a driveway made of the same leading to their lot.

Regulations for front yard parking and for multi-family homes remain the same.

Article Photos

The city council passed a change to the city code Monday that would limit the number of cars residents could park in their back and side yards to two. Cars like this one, shown Tuesday afternoon on First Avenue between Lincoln and Grant Streets, will be required to be parked on gravel, concrete or asphalt after the code change takes effect in September 2013.

The city council passed the change to the city code after much heated debate that began roughly a year ago. The Planning and Zoning Commission brought the topic to the council, essentially, as a group of concerned citizens.

Stephen Troskey, city planner, said the city did not devise the change. The Planning and Zoning Commission's goal with this code change was to ensure the overall aesthetic of area neighborhoods.

"They wanted to make sure rear yard parking looked nice and yards were free of rutting," he said.

Planning and Zoning removed provisions that limited hard surfaces in the back and side yard to a percent of the lot because of enforcement issues those provisions posed.

Troskey said it is a lot easier to count vehicles than determine how much of a person's property is being used for parking.

The code still allows parking in garages and in driveways, but now places a two-vehicle cap on parking in backyards.

Many Marshalltown citizens as well as council members Al Hoop, fourth ward, and Bob Schubert, first ward, were staunch opponents of the change, saying it unfairly targets the poor.

During the resolution's passing, which took it returning to its first reading after undergoing substantial changes, Curt Ward, city attorney, reminded the council that parking regulations in the city code do not fall under zoning.

Essentially, the Planning and Zoning Commission brought the issue up on its own recognizance, not through the city's prompting.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said compliance officers would handle violations the same way they would any other parking ticket. He stressed that the MPD aims to gain voluntary compliance.



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