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Go ahead with RV, motor home, camper parking limits in borough: Editorial

Posted 7/24/19

A potential new ordinance that Middletown Borough Council is considering would be a shock to the system to many residents who own recreational vehicles, motor homes, boats and large campers.

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Go ahead with RV, motor home, camper parking limits in borough: Editorial

Posted

A potential new ordinance that Middletown Borough Council is considering would be a shock to the system to many residents who own recreational vehicles, motor homes, boats and large campers.

All of those items might soon be banned from being parked on Middletown streets.

While we foresee the problems that owners of these vehicles might initially have, we support the decision from both an aesthetic and a safety angle.

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 — would come to an end.

Under the proposal, 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.

The proposal is meant to address safety, not aesthetics, Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach told council on June 18. The draft ordinance notes concerns over the ability of emergency vehicles to get through some borough streets where “oversized vehicles” are parked.

Also prohibited:

• 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.

And if you think you can just put an RV in your yard instead of parking it on the street, think again. As a licensed vehicle, an RV must be parked on a driveway or stored, Wilsbach said.

Council approved advertising the ordinance by 6-1 vote, with Councilor Ian Reddinger voting no. Advertising the ordinance is a step toward the council voting on the measure. That might happen at the Aug. 7 meeting.

“How would this impact our residents?” Reddinger asked before the vote to advertise.

It’s a valid question. Many residences in the borough don’t have driveways or garages or ways to store such big vehicles.

It’s impossible to say how many people will be affected if the ordinance passes. Council member Robert 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 Township has a similar ordinance, so it can be done. Granted, the residential parking situation when comparing Middletown to Lower Swatara differs greatly.

The issues with parking in Middletown have played out in other ways lately. This is another way to make more parking available.

But more than that, we agree that safety must come first, and emergency vehicles must not be impeded. Drivers also need to have clear views at intersections of oncoming traffic, and be able to pass on streets safely.

Also, while the borough might not want to make it an aesthetics issue, it is, in our view. Having such large items stored on our streets is not the impression we want to give to visitors to the borough. 

We urge council to pass the ordinance, but to ensure some amnesty period to give residents an opportunity to adjust.

We also suggest that borough officials come up with suggestions as to how residents can park these vehicles legally if the ordinance is approved.

This ordinance will help make driving in the borough safer and help our streets look a bit nicer.