Some people collect Matchbox cars or Hot Wheels.

But others collect the real thing -- and that's becoming an issue for the city of Whitehall.

Current city code prohibits parking motor or recreational vehicles on unimproved services -- such as grass -- in front or side yards, but Whitehall City Council is considering an amendment that also would prohibit the parking of any motor or recreational vehicle on pervious surfaces in backyards as well.

“There are no regulations on backyards,” Whitehall service director Zach Woodruff said.

The ordinance, introduced by Woodruff at the Jan. 14 meeting of council committees, is scheduled for a first reading before Whitehall City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.

The proposal to prohibit parking in backyards first was suggested by the administration to City Council about two years ago, Woodruff said, but it gained no traction.

Since then, “the problem has only gotten worse,” Woodruff said.

“And we’re not talking about one car or one boat," he said. "In some cases it’s six, seven or eight cars, boats or RVs, (and) it is having a detrimental impact.

“We are getting a greater number of complaints, too.”

Using aerial images from the Franklin County Auditor’s Office and photographs from Whitehall’s zoning officers depicting multiple vehicles on back lawns, Woodruff has appealed to council to extend the parking prohibition on front and side lawns to include backyards.

In many instances, residential lots are deep, allowing for multiple vehicles to be stored, Woodruff said.

The proposal is meant to provide the means to eradicate “residential junkyards,” he said.

The proposed legislation also considers the possibility a homeowner might simply pave over grass.

Any lot 7,500 square feet or smaller is limited to 50% impervious surface; lots greater than 7,500 square feet are limited to 4,500 square feet of impervious surface, Woodruff said.

The city took a small sample of each kind of lot size and found that, on average, lots smaller than 7,500 square feet had 30% to 35% impervious surface, and lots in excess of 7,500 square feet had an average of 3,700 square feet of impervious surface, Woodruff said.

The amount of impervious surface includes the footprint of the residence, garages or other permanent structures.

“I think this proposal has council support,” Woodruff said.

Whitehall City Council President Tom Potter said he supports the proposal.

Although Potter does not vote on legislation, except to break a tie, he said proposed amendment “is the right thing to do.”

“We have citizens who are doing the right thing but are negatively affected by the people who are not returning the favor of keeping their property looking good,” Potter said.

Having a substandard property can negatively affect property value, Potter said.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said the initiative is meant “to raise the quality of life in Whitehall.”

“Unfortunately, we have had a proliferation of backyard junkyards, and it affects the quality of life of residents living next to one,” Maggard said.

The proposed legislation would not prohibit parking cars in the backyard but rather only would require that it be “done properly” on concrete or blacktop, she said.

Other central Ohio cities prohibit parking on lawns.

Hilliard’s city code prohibits parking motor or recreational vehicles on unimproved or noncompact surfaces such as grass or loose gravel anywhere on residential property, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

In addition to the proposal to prohibit parking in backyards, Woodruff also introduced legislation that would require commercial property owners to enclose trash receptacles.

The effective date would be Sept. 1, allowing time for owners to comply, he said.

Both ordinances are set to receive a first reading Jan. 21, a second reading Feb. 4 and a third and final reading Feb. 18.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
@ThisWeekCorvo