Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Residential Parking Legislation

Last week, the Council approved Zoning Text Amendment 09-03, which was part of a package of code enforcement legislation sent to the Council by the County Executive. Parking was the main focus of the ZTA, which limits the amount of parking on a front yard based on its zone. In the R-200, R-150 and R-90 zones, 30 percent of the yard may be covered by surfaced parking; in R-60 and R-40 zones, 35 percent of the yard may be covered, and on houses on major streets, 50 percent of the yard may be covered. These requirements may be waived if necessary for public safety.

The parking regulations have a grandfather clause that allows properties with surfaced parking that exceeds the new limits to remain in place, but homeowners may not expand that area. The ZTA also includes a six month amortization clause: simply put, this means that at the conclusion of the six month period after the law goes into effect, homeowners may not park their cars on grass or dirt on their front yards and must install a parking surface such as asphalt or wood chips.

The ZTA also places a limit on the number of cars that can be parked on a front yard. All lots are allowed a minimum of 320 square feet of area for parking in the front yard, roughly sufficient for two cars. Each additional vehicle requires at least 160 square feet of surface area.

The ZTA made two other changes to current County law: it requires home business operators to prove they live where the business is taking place and it allows light commercial vehicles (such as smaller tow trucks which are shorter than 21 feet long and lower than 8 feet high) to be parked on residentially zoned lots.

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