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Council Addresses Homeowner’s Property Value Concerns

 

Blight or a simple shabby appearance of buildings in a city can also occur in the suburbs, as evidenced from the concerns expressed by several Lamar residents who make their home in Willow Valley. While that neighborhood isn’t troubled by abandoned or derelict houses, there have been complaints that some homes, and more of them over time, are found with large RVs or campers parked in driveways.  And not just those items, but more boats and trailers and other rec-oriented vehicles are taking up permanent or semi-permanent residence with home owners.

Jack and Kim VanHook, stated during the Lamar City Council work session on April 1st, that over the past eight years, the appearance of the neighborhood has altered with the introduction of more recreational vehicles which, while most are parked in private driveways, are beginning to constitute a visual nuisance and some may be in violation of code ordinances.

Administrator Sutherland said a similar situation on South 7th Street brought to light an ordinance which was adopted by the City of Lamar in 1986, but hadn’t been utilized in some time in Lamar.  Reading from the ordinance which he distributed to council members, it states in part, “Major recreational equipment is defined as boats and boat trailers, travel trailers, pick-up campers or coaches designed to be mounted on automotive vehicles, motorized dwellings, tent trailers and the like and cases or boxes used for transporting recreation equipment.”

The ordinance continues, “No major recreation equipment shall be parked or stored on any lot in a residential district except in a carport or enclosed building or behind the nearest portion of a building to a street. Provided however, that such equipment may be parked anywhere on residential premises for not to exceed 24 hours during loading or unloading.  No such equipment shall be used for living, sleeping or housekeeping purposed where parked or stored on a residential lot or in any location not to be approved for such use.”

From the council’s discussion of the issue, there appears to be a ‘slippery slope’ in either direction. There’s a possibility that property values can be impacted by close proximity to something like a permanent 35 foot RV parked on a front yard, or as many as five cars parked at one residence.  By the same token, some council members expressed concerns that it would be difficult to start enforcing every infringement on the code enforcement books.  “There may have been some residential push-back against all these codes when they were first enacted over 30 years ago which is why they aren’t being stressed to that same degree in this decade,” was one explanation.  The homeowners, Jack and Kim VanHook as well as Michelle Crown, asked that at least some of these codes be put to use to help improve the look of their neighborhood.  They distributed several photos of various homes all with some form of camper, RV or other rec vehicle in evidence throughout Willow Valley to provide an example of their concerns.

Mayor Roger Stagner said he has relatives in Colorado Springs where, “About every third house in their neighborhood has a camper of some sort parked on the property.” He said that these appear to be kept up and none have yard debris or weeds growing around their base, which appears to be the case in Willow Valley, although one or two campers appear to be non-operable and are just sitting there.  And as it appears the vehicles are operable and have licenses, they fall within the code regulations.  The problem of keeping them from the public’s eye stems from a lack of backyards in some streets or having to construct a fence to keep them from view.

There are one or two businesses that have developed of late in the Lamar area which provide out-of-town public storage areas for rec vehicles that come with a fee. Current codes allow such vehicles to be parked on streets for only 72 hours before they have to be removed.  A similar code enforcement was developed by the council five or six years ago when neighborhoods began to complain about semis parked in front of homes for days on end.  Stagner said the council is just getting started to get involved on this issue and will see if there’s a workable solution for all involved parties.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEnvironmentFeaturedHousingLaw EnforcementPublic SafetyRecreationTourism

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