Parking process faces scrutiny

Got a secret street where you leave that big boat so your neighbors won’t complain and you don’t violate your homeowners’ association bylaws?

It might not be so easy to find parking in the future.

When parking restrictions on recreation vehicles are proposed, the Prince William County code requires a petition from property owners along secondary streets and a public hearing. Types of vehicles include trailers, watercraft, boat trailers, recreational vehicles and camping trailers.

The code also requires that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors determine that parking these vehicles unreasonably limits parking for cars.

The extra requirement could be eliminated following a June 4 public hearing. It would no longer need to be proven that recreational vehicles are hampering car parking, but a petition and public hearing would still be required for a street to be restricted.

County departments, including police, transportation, public works and zoning, are recommending removal of the extra requirement.

Parking of recreational vehicles needs to be addressed for a number of reasons, including public safety and the visual impact, county officials said.

“In certain locations we have concerns for traffic safety because parking of these vehicles obstructs sight distance, and pedestrians sometimes walk out from between them,” said Prince William County police Chief Charlie T. Deane. “It can also pose a problem for the safe use of driveways.”

“The problem is that too many people have learned the legal places to leave them,” said Supervisor Ruth T. Griggs, R-Occoquan. “We have streets that fall between the cracks of one homeowners’ association or another, and those are the streets where people tend to leave them.”

Many homeowners’ associations prohibit parking such vehicles in front of homes, she said.

So far no streets have been proposed for restriction under this provision of the code, said Assistant County Attorney Angela Lemmon Horan. Fairfax has a similar ordinance, without the extra requirement.

Even if the extra requirement is removed, she doesn’t expect a sweeping effort to restrict these vehicles, Horan said.

“I think the board is still going to be looking for a good reason to do this.”

Another concern is that parking recreational vehicles could be hampering business.

“Property owners have frequently told us there’s a negative effect when people park in front, because they’re large and oversized and it makes it harder for people to get in or out of establishments,” said County Zoning Administrator Sherman Patrick.

The proper place to store vehicles where parking is prohibited is in a commercial storage facility, Deane said.

Staff writer Diane Freda can be reached at (703) 878-4723.

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