Home Opinion RVs, Boats & Property Rights

RVs, Boats & Property Rights

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At-large Bossier City Council member David Montgomery’s proposed ordinance to limit parking of recreational vehicles on residential property was decided at last Tuesday’s Bossier City Council meeting – but not before a good deal of discussion by property owners and council members.

All but one of the Bossier citizens who spoke at the meeting were opposed to the ordinance.  Several said that parking RVs or boats at storage facilities would result in costs they would have difficulty paying. But the general sentiment of these homeowners was that they should have the right to park recreational vehicles on the property they own and maintain.

District 3 Council member Don “Bubba” Williams said he would not support the ordinance, noting that he owns a party barge and ATV and if he had to put them in storage, he couldn’t afford the cost.  Williams observed that the ordinance put a “burden on people.” Jeff Darby, District 2, also voted “no” on the measure.

The balance of the Council voted affirmatively to adopt the ordinance, which would not prohibit parking recreational vehicles on residential property – but would restrict that parking to back yards, side yards behind the set-back line, driveways, and concrete or blacktop pads – or even on the street if such parking doesn’t interfere with public safety vehicles.  There will be a 90-day period for recreational vehicle owners to adjust to the new ordinance.  This property rights issue has long been a concern of the Council – which for years has been reluctant to adopt ordinances that would restrict those rights.  But that reluctance may be softening some – and perhaps that’s not such a negative for property rights.

Following the meeting, Montgomery explained the catalyst for his proposal saying that some months ago, he received calls from residents that have lived in Bossier City for many years and in older neighborhoods – all over the city.  These folks expressed concern for their property values in the face of large recreational vehicles parked in yards around theirs and the result that homes were difficult to sell or lease.

Montgomery said that these people are reaching out for help, and that measures such as restricting the parking of recreational vehicles on residential lots is not intended to take away a property owners rights, but to protect property values – for all owners.  He said that the city has done a very good job on the side of commercial development, but hasn’t kept up with the residential side to protect values.  And Montgomery also noted that the proposed ordinance wasn’t a quick response to those concerns.  Instead, he worked with City Attorney Jimmy Hall to research similar issues in other communities and how those communities responded to the issues.

During the meeting, Montgomery told attendees that the whole point of the  ordinance was to try to set down in writing a way to protect the value of homes.

“We have to start somewhere,” Montgomery said.  “If something becomes too egregious, we’ll look at it … if it’s not working, we’ll look at it – if need be, we’ll take it away.”

Time well tell how this ordinance works, but it may encourage more discussion about how the city can help homeowners in the city’s older neighborhoods maintain property values.  Montgomery noted he had 30 phone calls in favor of the ordinance;

Council member Tommy Harvey said he had a number of phone calls in favor of the ordinance as well.  Clearly, there are a number of property owners who will see the Council’s effort on this issue as a step in the right direction – and likely hope for a few more of those steps.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at m_carlso@bellsouth.net 

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