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News for December 5, 2021

Code Changes For Montana RV, Trailer Parking For Initial Review

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The City Commissioners of Montana will consider on first reading a proposed ordinance amendment related to large vehicles parking on city streets, a report said.

They will not vote on the proposed change right away, but they will vote to hold a public hearing about the proposed change for Sept. 7.

There have been complaints from residents about RVs, trailers, boats, and other large-sized vehicles being left on the streets.

Residents raised concerns about an RV that was parked in their area a few months back at a City Commission meeting. They also renewed the discussion on changing the code which, for over a decade, the commissioners had not pursued.

The July 20th work session saw a draft ordinance presented by city staff.

According to the city staff, the proposed ordinance includes new definitions of a vehicle class that is designated “recreational vehicle“, “utility trailer” or “vessel”. This new provision allows vehicles to temporarily be parked in residential areas for loading or unloading purposes only. It is limited to 36 hours per 7-day period.

In addition, a provision that requires a written notice of 24 hours to be removed before any parking citation is issued; as well as the new parking restriction’s incorporation into Title 10’s standard parking enforcement framework. This allows for the enforcement of unpaid tickets, immobilization of vehicles in the event that there are multiple unpaid tickets, and enforcement in Municipal Court.

Title 10 of the city’s code deals with vehicles and parking. Accordingly to the resolution of the commission, fines for violating the code provisions will be determined separately.

The new ordinance will be enforced by the city’s police officers and community service officers as well as other individuals designated by the city manager.

Staff and commissioners agreed that enforcement would be “complaint-driven”, with complaints being dealt with in the order they were received (except when there is a clear safety hazard); and incorporated in the existing workload and staffing environments for GFPD, and other City departments. This will mean that the ability of the existing City staff to handle this new task will dictate the response time.

2017 saw Title 17 of the city’s land development code amended to partially address these issues. This made it easier for residential property owners to park their boats, trailers, or recreational vehicles on their properties by allowing larger driveways and off-street parking spaces. These changes allowed gravel and pavers to be used as a parking surface, in addition to concrete or asphalt.

Recently, the city planning board reviewed and recommended approval of changes to code that would allow garages and accessory structures to be allowed greater heights and square footage in residential areas.

According to staff, “These proposed changes were driven in part by staff discussions with residents who are interested to build larger detached garages for recreational vehicles or trailers or boats that are currently stored in yards or in public streets.”

A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

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