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home : premium content : news May 29, 2016

5/22/2013 3:39:00 PM
City Council considering regulations for RV parking on residential streets
Ian Dunn

RV parking in the city could be limited in the near future. The Leavenworth City Council discussed possible limitations on RV parking in the city at the May 14 study session.

City Development Services Manager Nathan Pate said they have been looking at RVs parked in the front yard and visible. He said they had city code for junk vehicles and such, but nothing specifically for RVs.

"We talked about the number of RVs, five per property. We tried to talk about what is going on with RVs and why it could be a nuisance," Pate said. "We worked through some language to address it. If you have a boat or RV in your yard, you can have it there forever under the current code."

The new language, he said, proposes to allow major recreational vehicles to be parked in the front yard, only in season, such as boats and RVs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. But, in the off season, the vehicles should not be there.

Councilman Bob Francis expressed opposition to the idea. He felt it was unfair to tell RV owners where to park their vehicles.

"Now we're going to say, look you've finally been able to purchase something you can use as a recreational vehicle, but we don't like it sitting in your yard," Francis said. "We're going to tell you that you have to move it. You own your property and put it there, but now it might cost you money to store it."

Francis said what he does on his property is his business, unless it affects the property values of his neighbor. Mayor Cheri Kelley Farivar said it does impact the value in the neighborhood, but is difficult to prove.

Councilman Elmer Larsen pointed out a large boat in Leavenworth that has been in someone's front yard nearly 10 years. He feels that impacts the neighbors all the way around.

"The thing is we have a 25-foot set back. You can build your house there, but you can't store your vehicle," Larsen said. "It is a contradiction to say, we are going to let people use their property as they choose. Part of this is using it responsibly, in relation to your neighbors. If it is a real hardship, maybe we can build in an exception."

Farivar said, with regard to the large boat Larsen referred to, that would probably be the first to apply for hardship. If something like hardship is built in, it will be utilized, she said.

"I have thought about this a great deal because I understand the frustration of owners in the city. I am a real believer in property rights. You ought to be able to do with your property what you want. However, I think the question revolves around the word abandonment," Farivar said. "I don't think it is appropriate for an RV to sit on a lot and never move.

"That becomes a permanent structure, especially if it is not on a trailer. Then, it cannot be moved. That reaches a different level. Maybe we find a way to approach this about something that never moves, exempting those properties that do move seasonally."

City Administrator Joel Walinski said they did consider that. But the difficulty lies in proving that a boat or RV was not taken out during a six month or five year period. Larsen said there are sign codes and downtown building owners are required to decorate their buildings in a certain way.

"Then, we say we don't care about the residential area," Larsen said. "People are asked to keep their yards looking nice, lawns mowed. The point is you have a 25-foot setback. You can't build a deck out there. Why should you put a boat out there? The end result is you have something not normal in the front yard."

In the newer subdivisions, there are covenants that govern these types of activities, Farivar said, but in the older plattes, there are no such covenants.

Pate said they will study the issue some more and come back to the council. He said the direction seems to be to identify those RVs not being used.

"The crux of this on any of these issues. We have to agree on this specific issue, this piece of property we are after," Walinski said. "What we have to do is write something that is fair. Second thing is, we have to write so we can actually enforce it. We have to make sure the enforcement is very clear, so we can enforce it without a lot of back and forth."

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or

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