Northwood City Administrator Bob Anderson said at a meeting earlier this month he is looking for a compromise to the traffic code that would allow off-street parking under certain circumstances.
Currently, it is illegal for residents to park on their lawns and yards.
“We’re moving toward a compromise that would allow people to occasionally park where there’s no parking available, and allow them to temporarily park there,” said Anderson.
Parking on lawns, he said, tears up the grass and devalues properties.
“I looked at all the cities around us, and none of them allow people to just park haphazardly, wherever they want to. It’s been a problem for quite a while,” he said.
“We’re trying to come up with language that would allow off-street parking when there are parties, or their son or daughter visit for a couple of days and have no place else to park,” he said.
“Some people have a tendency to park on their grass, which on a dry summer day might not be bad because it won’t leave any permanent marks, not be a big deal. But a lot of times, it tears up the yard, starts to look trashy. People say `It’s my property and I should be able to do what I want.’ I understand. But we all live really close together and there should be some standard. So my problem as an administrator is to come up with a solution that recognizes that we want to maintain the neighborhoods looking good and balance that with sometimes there’s a party and there’s no place to park. But you can’t please everyone,” he said.
Wally Rush, of Sheffield Place, told council his son got a ticket recently during a visit to his home because he had parked on the grass. Last year, he and his neighbors appeared before council to complain about not being able to park where they wanted to. Rush said he thought some on council had supported him at that time.
“Last year in July, I was here with neighbors that live on that street, and we had officers going around to ticket people if they parked on an area that had grass,” said Rush. “I was told by city council when we had this problem that they were going to get with the police to back off on the issuing of tickets for anyone parking there. I went to talk to the police last week, and they said they never heard a word from any of you guys about backing off of ticketing people for parking there, never received anything in writing, from any of you guys. We need temporary parking when we have company. There’s stone underneath where I have the grass in front. I just let it grow up and I keep it mowed. It’s not tore up or anything. If I parked there continuously, it would be back down to the stone, which I do not use permanently, just for temporary parking. I’ve never had a ticket in 30 some years since I’ve lived there. I was just wondering, what’s the problem here?”
Mayor Mark Stoner told Rush it was not a question and answer period, and he and Anderson would address his concerns after the meeting.
“This is for you to address us. If you’ll wait around until after the meting, the city administrator and I will talk to you.”
Anderson said after the meeting that the judge in court could be lenient with Rush due to the circumstances of the violation.
“He’s got a nice looking yard,” Anderson said of Rush. “But police officers can’t do anything about ordinances. It’s kind of like speeding. You can go speed down Curtice for 30 years and not get caught but if you get caught speeding, you still broke the law. We told him we’re trying to come up with a compromise.”
Anderson said he would like the ordinance moved from the traffic code to the zoning code.
“We’re not talking about major crimes, but parking violations,” said Anderson. “I hope to have a draft of the zoning ordinance section dealing with off-street parking for the next meeting so we could look at it.”