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Ban on long-term RV, motor home parking in works; it would be for safety, not aesthetics

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/10/19

Recreational vehicles, motor homes and large campers might soon be banned from being parked on Middletown streets.

An ordinance approved for advertisement by Middletown Borough Council on July 2 …

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Ban on long-term RV, motor home parking in works; it would be for safety, not aesthetics

Posted

Recreational vehicles, motor homes and large campers might soon be banned from being parked on Middletown streets.

An ordinance approved for advertisement by Middletown Borough Council on July 2 would put an end to long-term parking of Class 1, 2 or 3 travel trailers and RVs on borough streets — including but not limited to campers, pop-up campers and motor homes.

The proposal is meant to address safety, not aesthetics, Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach told council on June 18.

For example, the draft ordinance notes concerns over the ability of emergency vehicles to get through some borough streets where “oversized vehicles” are parked.

Under the ordinance, you could only park your travel trailer or RV on a public street for up to 24 hours in any seven-day period — and then only for loading or unloading the vehicle.

Other types of vehicles that would be prohibited from being parked long-term include:

• Any vehicle with three or more axles, including but not limited to single-unit trucks, truck tractors, truck tractors with semi-trailer combinations and semi-trailers.

• Boats of Class 2 or 3 that are 26 feet or more in length, as classified by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and boats wider than 10 feet.

• Utility trailers that are more than 20 feet in length or more than 10 feet wide.

If council follows through with banning RVs from being on borough streets all the time, owners of these vehicles cannot just put them in their yard, Wilsbach said.

As a licensed vehicle, an RV must be parked on a driveway or stored, Wilsbach said. The ordinance provides two other exemptions, besides that one that allows an RV to be parked on a public street for loading and unloading only.

Trucks can be parked on a public street, as long as the trucks are making a local delivery, or if the truck is being used as a moving van for a property adjacent to the street.

The proposal would exempt vehicles used by utility and construction companies that are “lawfully engaged in work on or about the roadway or property adjacent to the roadway.”

Council approved advertising the ordinance by 6-1 vote, with Councilor Ian Reddinger voting no.

“How would this impact our residents?” Reddinger asked before the vote. Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter read provisions included in the proposal, after which Reddinger cast his no vote.

Councilor Robert Reid earlier this year brought up concerns about the number of tractor-trailers and other “tow-behind” trailers that he said were being parked on Middletown streets.

Reid said he believed that many of these vehicles and trailers are owned by people who do not live in Middletown, but who live in an adjacent or nearby municipality which has banned the parking of such vehicles on their own streets.

“Our citizens can’t park trailers in Lower Swatara because they have an ordinance, but citizens of Lower Swatara park their trailers in Middletown” because the borough does not have an ordinance addressing it, Reid said during a discussion of the proposed Middletown ordinance on June 18.

Reid asked if it would be possible to “survey” all trailers parked on borough streets, to determine how many are owned by people who do not live in Middletown.

Wilsbach said such a survey would have to be done by the police department and would be cumbersome, given the number of trailers.

The Lower Swatara ordinance banning certain vehicles from being parked on township streets does not distinguish between whether the vehicle is owned by a resident or non-resident, borough Solicitor LaToya Bellamy noted.

The distinction is irrelevant, said Councilor Ellen Willenbecher. “If you don’t want it on the street, it doesn’t matter where they live.”

An earlier version of the proposal would have allowed some RVs to remain parked on borough streets, such as pop-ups. The definition was broadened at the urging of Council President Angela Lloyd.

“I personally would prefer that there are no campers, whether they are pop-ups or whatever class they are,” Lloyd said during the June 18 meeting. “I don’t think they should be allowed on our streets for more than the 24 hours.”

Wilsbach during the June 18 meeting mentioned one example of two large RVs that for some time have been parked opposite each other on Spruce Street, near the intersection with Main Street.

Klinepeter said the proposal would not prohibit all trailers from parking on borough streets — just those large enough to potentially create a traffic problem or site visibility problem, especially on narrow streets.

Reid said he has “no problem” with campers, but objects to trailers “loaded with junk” being parked on borough streets.

“I can show you a trailer that has been parked in the same spot for the last 10 years. It never moves,” Reid said.

But the new ordinance does not appear to address these, unless the trailer is more than 20 feet long or more than 10 feet wide.

Wilsbach said the trailers brought up by Reid could possibly be addressed by an existing borough ordinance pertaining to junked vehicles — but only if the trailers are not properly licensed or registered.

The proposed ordinance must come back to council for a final vote, perhaps during council’s Aug. 7 meeting.