Zoning keeps trucks out of neighborhoods

Despite objections raised by several small business owners, the Prince William County Planning Commission gave its approval to new zoning regulations designed to keep commercial vehicles out of local neighborhoods.

The commission narrowly voted in favor of several zoning amendments which ban box trucks in residential areas, limit the number of commercial vehicles that can be parked outside a home and prohibit county residents from parking cars on their front lawns.

The regulation that drew the most criticism involved box trucks, considered a “prohibited vehicle” that can’t be regularly parked in any residential area or agricultural lots of less than 10 acres.

If the amendments are approved by the Board of County Supervisors, residents will also be prohibited from parking more than one commercial vehicle — described as a vehicle that weighs more than 14,100 lbs., has display advertising or is licensed “for hire” — outside homes on less than 3-acre lots.

Several small business owners said the law puts an unfair burden on small and home-based businesses, which often rely on box trucks and operate out of the owner’s home.

“This is just persecuting small businesses,” said Rebecca Barnes, of AM/PM Movers.

Bill Barron, who runs a table and chair rental service, bought a new box truck for his business and parked it in his driveway for several months until a neighbor complained.

He now parks his truck in an industrial lot on Dawson Beach Road — almost an hour’s walk from his home.

Barron said he considers his company to be a positive contributor to the county and is frustrated by the regulations.

Some commissioners agreed the new regulations are unfair and decried the fact that vehicles such as RVs and camping trailers are allowed in residential areas while box trucks are not.

“This regulation is anti-business,” said Commissioner Hector Quintana, at large.

Quintana pointed out that the amendments were created in response to between 100 and 200 citizen complaints about parking violations –representing less than one percent of the county population.

Commissioner Thomas H. Sarel, Brentsville, said he sympathized with small businesses but believes commercial trucks don’t belong in residential areas.

“I find it visually offensive, on the weekends, to see these vehicles in the neighborhoods,” he said.

At the request of the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce and other citizens, the Planning Commission voted to increase the gross weight limit of a “commercial vehicle” to 14,100 lbs., instead of the 10,100 lb. measure that has been in place for years.

“It still doesn’t help us,” said Barron, referring to business owners with box trucks, which are prohibited by the amendments regardless of weight.

The amendments were initiated by the Board of County Supervisors, with the goal of creating more consistent zoning regulations and helping the county maintain “attractive and harmonious communities.”

The commission voted 5-3 to recommend the Board of County Supervisors approve the zoning text amendments. The county supervisors are scheduled to vote on the amendments Nov. 26.

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