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Parking ordinance temporarily suspended
Revised ordinance still up in air
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Nearly every car owner who lives in Covington is violating the city’s current parking ordinance, simply by parking a car outside their home, if that car weighs more than 2,000 pounds.

For that reason, the Covington City Council voted unanimously on Monday to suspend enforcement of the parking ordinance. The council continues to debate to what extent a revised ordinance would limit commercial vehicles’ presence in neighborhoods.

The issue of a revised ordinance first came to light when a Forest Drive resident, Virginia Hoffman, complained about neighbors parking construction equipment and larger vehicles at their homes. When the planning department looked into the issue, they realized that the larger vehicles were indeed in violation, as were nearly every other vehicle there, Planning Director Randy Vinson said Tuesday.

Because a mid-size car weighs more than 4,000 pounds, everything besides the smallest compact located in a residential area is breaking the ordinance, unless it is parked in a garage or on a concrete pad in the back of a residence. Cars may not be parked on the grass of a residence.

Vinson said the change was made when the city adopted its form-based ordinances in 2008, but he doesn’t know why this section was adopted. The department staff thought it might have been a typographical error.

When Hoffman brought her complaint, the department decided to consider revising the ordinance and went to the council for guidance. The proposal they brought back to the council would have prevented certain commercial vehicles from parking outside of residences or on public right-of-ways in zonings NR-1, NR-2, NR-3, CR and TCR.

Construction equipment and any commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 19,500 pounds (a class 5 rating) or longer than 25-feet (or would be longer if towed by a truck) or require a commercial driver’s license would have been prohibited under the ordinance.

However, council members were concerned about the ordinance affecting people who depended on larger trucks and vehicles for their livelihood, including semi-truck driver Michael McGiboney, whose company is based in Dalton and who depends on his cab for transportation. Delivery trucks, flat bed tow trucks and welding trucks also would have been prohibited.

On Sept. 21, the council voted 4-2 not to enact the ordinance, and Councilman Keith Dalton asked City Attorney Ed Crudup to review the current ordinance and find a way to make that workable. Dalton said Tuesday, he’s not sure what the final ordinance will look like but felt that the issue needed more discussion and legal input.

Hoffman attended Monday’s meeting, speaking in favor of an ordinance that would allow passenger vehicles, but not commercial vehicles. She questioned whether Dalton should be voting at all, since he parks one of his cleaning company trucks at his house. Dalton said Tuesday he only parks one work vehicle at his house and his truck is much smaller than anything the council considered restricting.

The council wants to have an updated proposal at its Oct. 18 council meeting.