Residents of Southaven who own a small utility trailer will now be allowed to park it in their driveways as long as it is unloaded and 10 feet from the street.
Southaven Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday to amend its off-street parking ordinance to include the exemption for utility trailers. The issue was brought to the board’s attention by resident Chris Tucker. Tucker lives on Brookhaven Drive and was issued a warning by code enforcement for parking his small utility trailer in his yard. He requested the board review the ordinance and consider making an allowance for small utility trailers.
City Attorney Nick Manley told the board that they looked at the ordinance and went back and adjusted it to allow an exception for small utility trailers as long as they were empty and far enough from the street so as to not harm the aesthetics of the neighborhood and property values.
“It would still not allow recreational equipment,” Manley said. “But if it is a utility trailer that is ten feet or less and does not have anything in it and is parked in the driveway 10 feet from the street, that will no longer be a violation of the code as written.”
Manley said the ordinance still keeps in place the provision that prohibits a trailer from being parked in the yard or on the street.
Ward 2 Alderman Charlie Hoots asked that there be an exception for recreational vehicles that would allow up to five days to unload, which was not included in the resolution which was adopted.
“To me, five days doesn’t seem excessive,” Hoots said. “I could see where it would take a couple of days to unload.”
Mayor Darren Musselwhite said he was not aware of a problem with RVs being issued citations by code enforcement and was leery of adding the change.
“This is just my opinion, but does it take five days to load up?” Musselwhite said. “I would think that would be a little excessive. If you have an RV sitting there for five days, that is what the ordinance is there to prevent that.”
Musselwhite said if the RV is parked for a few hours or a few days, code enforcement is going to use a common sense approach to determine if there is a violation anyway.
“If it is just a few hours, they’re going to use common sense to give them the time to load a recreational vehicle to give them time to travel. I would think the ordinance we have in place would be enforced if it was an excessive amount of time,” Musselwhite said.
Ward 1 Alderman Kristian Kelly agreed and said that most problems can usually be fixed by moving the vehicle in 24 to 48 hours.
“I think (code enforcement) gives you seven days or something like that to fix the problem,” Kelly said.
Planning & Development Director Whitney Choat said putting a specific time limit in the ordinance would be hard to prove one way or the other. She echoed Musselwhite’s point that code enforcement takes a common sense approach to each problem before issuing citations.
“It depends on the problem,” Choat said. “There have been situations where somebody has complained and we have gone and talked to them and it is clear they were packing up. Then you have 24 to 48 hours. We do use a common sense approach.”
Musselwhite said the board can revisit the matter if RV parking becomes a problem.
“I don’t see a need to make a change,” Musselwhite said. “That’s something we can keep our ears and eyes open if something changes or if we see it becomes more of a problem in the future. It’s never been an issue, at least I’ve never seen it before.”
Musselwhite said the important part is that they clarified the ordinance to allow for small trailers and that they had to be empty and still remain the required distance from the street.
“I think we have a pretty good solution,” Musselwhite said. “I think it still accomplished the goal and prevents our streets from being cluttered and prevents a negative look that would be detrimental to property values.”
Hoots said he was also satisfied with the changes.
“It sounds like you have some leeway there and if you use a common sense approach,” Hoots said.