BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison commission is recommending several changes to city code that further defines what constitutes a commercial vehicle for purposes of parking and moving on city streets.
Current code defines a commercial vehicle as a vehicle used for transportation of passengers for hire and those constructed or used for transportation of merchandise.
New recommended code would include dimensions of 10 feet high, 8 feet wide and 22 feet long. Anything beyond any of those dimensions would be considered a commercial vehicle. The code also addresses vehicles of business ownership taken home at night that are within those guidelines provided they are parked completely on the owner’s private property.
Any food trucks would be considered commercial vehicles. Trailers not self-propelled, but those designed to be coupled or pulled by another vehicle and recreational vehicles that are over the limits are both considered commercial vehicles under the new code. One exception on the food trucks is that the food trucks may be stored on residential property if the vehicle is under the dimensions.
Current city code also restricts anything over 10,000 pounds whether empty or loaded having no fixed terminal within the city from traveling on certain streets. An exception is being proposed for allowing recreational vehicles to move on residential streets for purpose of being stored on private property.
“That weight restriction in our code, that 10,000 pounds, it’s in virtually every city I checked because of the DOT,” said City Planning and Zoning Director Doug Krogmeier.
“That’s probably where everybody got it from. Many cities define different sizes. What I’m proposing is actually much larger than what most cities have. I can go out and buy a truck that is over 7 or 8 foot tall.”
Parking was also an issue. Proposed code would make it unlawful to park a trailer, uncoupled on a city street except if the trailer is there for less than 8 hours as it is being unloaded or less than 30 days for construction purposes provided there is active construction going on during the 30 days.
Several residents approached the commission about the parking ordinances and the inconvenience of not being allowed to park their vehicles near their homes.
“We live down on Avenue L. My husband parked a truck there every time he’d come home. We had a neighbor who started a fight because he didn’t like the truck being parked there. Now it’s to the point where the police department would allow us to drive it down our street to get his stuff out and then move it down to park it at Dollar General,” said Roberta McGhghy.
Commissioner Larry Wright said it was a delicate balance of expectations of homeowners and efficiency of people with the commercial vehicles.
“We just haven’t addressed the root cause of parking in those places and that is the fact that in a lot of subdivisions or home areas people don’t want to see these vehicles. The reason I raise this is, as a homeowners’ association president and townhome association president, we had code that was far more severe than this. If we’re to talk about resale value and why people buy houses the way they do, I wonder what they would say to this,” Wright said.
“We have to address why this is here and what’s that delicate balance of the two. People buy homes with expectations and that’s why codes are there.”
Darryl Yeargin addressed the commission and asked that if the city create an new ordinance for vehicles and parking that they enforce for it everyone, not just a select few.
“If you want to follow ordinances let’s follow all of them. That’s all I’m asking. If you say I can’t park in front of my house that’s fine, but let’s make sure no commercial vehicles can park in front of their houses,” he said.