Woodville Mayor Rich Harman calls it a “work in progress.”
Officials in the Sandusky County village and in other area municipalities have spent time this year dealing with one parking issue in particular – residents and their visiting friends parking on their lawns.
Woodville Police Chief Roy Whitehead said that despite a village ordinance that prohibits parking in “street lawn” areas between sidewalks and roadways, the problem has been growing over the past several years – particularly in the older sections of the village.
The village ordinance also prohibits removing turf from the street lawn and replacing it with stone.
“Areas have been stoned and a lack of stone or pulling in and out is causing tire marks and muddy messes in these street lawn areas. Another problem is parking over a sidewalk,” the chief said. “Several homes in town are limited to one or two spots for parking based on location and age of the home. In today’s times, most homes now have several vehicles causing most to seek out other areas for parking.”
The planning commission noted off-street as well as on-street parking in the village is well designed in newer developments but not in older neighborhoods where it is “insufficient and poorly planned,” according to minutes of the commission’s March meeting.
Village officials in Genoa decided this spring to have the police department enforce parking violations in residential yards rather than the zoning inspector.
A hearing in May to discuss updates to the village planning and zoning code didn’t draw any residents even though several residents had complained in the past about not being allowed to park on their lawns for prolonged periods.
Police Chief Bob Bratton told The Press at the time his department had received a “handful” of complaints about parking on lawns.
“It’s been a few here and there, mostly neighbors complaining about a parking situation,” he said, adding usually the violators only need to be warned.
The village can issue a $10 citation for repeat violations.
Village administrator Kevin Gladden said the issue became more of a problem when the village prohibited parking on Washington and Main streets and some residents protested by parking on their front lawns.
Gladden said alternative parking areas such as alleys behind residences are too small to accommodate many parked vehicles.
In the City of Northwood, officials received an earful from a few residents when police this summer stepped up enforcement of an ordinance banning parking on lawns.
The law has been on the city’s books for about eight years. It prohibits parking on private property unless covered by stone, asphalt, or concrete.
During an August meeting of city council, several residents said police should focus their enforcement efforts on more serious crime.
Police Chief Tom Cairl told The Press his officers were trying to educate the public, handing out copies of the ordinance to avoid the need for issuing citations.
In a letter to the editor, one city resident called for the ordinance to be re-evaluated, noting it’s expensive for homeowners to pave or stone a part of their yard to comply with the law.
Mayor Harman said police in Woodville have also been giving friendly reminders to residents to move vehicles.
Village council has also been discussing adding curbs to streets where there are none. A likely funding plan for the project would have residents paying 60 percent and the village paying 40 percent, he said.
(Deb Wallace, a Press freelance writer, contributed to this story)