Parking issue pulls into view

Because it says too many neighborhood front yards are beginning to resemble parking lots, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors is considering tightening residential zoning laws.

A proposed change would make it illegal to park cars in front yards or pave them, similar to legislation enacted by Fairfax County last month.

Supervisor Hilda M. Barg, D-Woodbridge, has complained repeatedly about people in her district parking their cars in front yards. Some have turned their front and back yards into auto repair shops with multiple cars littering the landscape.

She did not attend Tuesday’s board of county supervisors meeting in which the amendment was initiated. Rather, Supervisor John D. Jenkins, D-Neabsco, made the motion for her and Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, R-Dumfries, seconded it.

“It’s becoming a community blight issue” countywide, said board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton, R-at large.

The amendment would require that vehicles be parked only on surfaced areas — such as driveways –on residential front yards. It would also prohibit people from paving more than 30 percent of a residential front yard.

Only one commercial vehicle per dwelling unit could be parked in residential or agricultural areas and those vehicles must be kept in a garage, side building or other off-street areas.

Should the proposed amendment prevail, residents would have to say goodbye to residential parking for garbage, refuse or recycling trucks, tractors or tractor trailers, tow trucks, passenger buses (except school buses), cement trucks and construction equipment, stake bed trucks, flatbed trucks, box trucks and step vans with a gross weight of 10,100 pounds or more.

There is nothing to prohibit this type of parking in the county code now. The county can address people running illegal businesses from their homes — and they do, said assistant director of public works Tom Bruun, but parking is generally unrestricted.

The change would not take place overnight, Connaughton said, because a staff review must first be completed, then the zoning ordinance review committee must approve it. After that, it must be presented to and approved by the Prince William Planning Commission and county supervisors. The entire process could take from six months to a year.

The county also recently took aim at recreational vehicle owners who park in other neighborhoods.

It abolished a provision to the code that stated it must be proven that parking boats and other RVs prohibits others from finding a parking place.

Now, all it takes to prohibit boats or campers from a street is a simple majority of residents along a street signing a petition against it.

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