Groveport City Council has agreed to take a fresh look at a law that prohibits heavy trucks from parking in residential areas during certain hours of the day.
Residents have expressed concerns about large vehicles parked in city neighborhoods, city Law Director Kevin Shannon told council members earlier this month. He noted that large trucks blocking streets can make it difficult for emergency vehicles to pass through.
Current law states, "Trucks, tractors or trailers with a gross vehicle weight of two and one-half tons (5,000 pounds) empty or over are hereby prohibited from parking in residential areas within the city after 6 p.m. or before 7 a.m. except deliveries of goods and materials to persons within the city."
However, Shannon said the current law causes concerns, because some SUVs, pickup trucks and other vehicles, such as Cadillac Escalades, might be over the 5,000-pound limit.
Proposed changes to the law would raise the empty gross vehicle weight limit to 4.5 tons or 9,000 pounds.
"If we are going to enforce that, we need to be able to pretty easily differentiate what's under the limit and what's over the limit," council Vice President Scott Lockett said. "That's one of the reasons why we're going to be talking about it. ... We want to make it as easy as possible to differentiate what that cutoff is."
Current law also does not differentiate between vehicles parked on the street or in a driveway.
Police Chief Ralph Portier said officers use information available on the internet to check the gross vehicle weight assigned to makes and models of vehicles. Every vehicle has a such a rating, which is the weight limit set by the manufacturer and should not be exceeded.
"We will make a courtesy contact, and then enforce the parking violation, which could include towing at the owner's expense should emergency vehicles be unable to pass through," Portier said.
According to the ordinance, those who violate the current law can be charged with a minor misdemeanor for the first offense and on a second offense "within one year after the first offense, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree."
For each subsequent violation within a year, the charge increases to a third-degree misdemeanor.
In Ohio, third-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Fourth-degree misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $250 fine.
Council President Shawn Cleary said officers primarily have been looking for tractor-trailers parked on streets.
"We have warned residents, we just don't go and write tickets," said Cleary, who has driven American Electric Power trucks home himself.
"I have to be careful because I have brought home AEP trucks, but I've also known the law and parked them over by the high school and got them the next day," he said. "I don't want to bring a bucket truck in here."