The Searcy Code Enforcement and Inspection Department has increased enforcement of its property maintenance code at the request of a City Council member, according to Director Jeff Webb.
“We had some very blatant violations of people parking trailers in their driveway, in their front yard, and I told the code enforcement guy to go tell them they had to move them, and they didn’t move them,” said Webb, who has been director of the department for two years. “We ended up writing a warning and they ended up moving them.
“One of the aldermen spoke to me about it and said we just need to make sure we are enforcing that all over town, not just picking on certain people – we’re not picking on them, but in other words not just ‘spot‘ enforcing it.”
Webb said he would rather not say who the councilperson was who asked him to increase enforcement of the code.
“He had gotten some complaints, so he asked me about it and I told him what happened, and he said, ‘As long as you are enforcing that all over town, it’s not a problem,’” Webb said. “It is on the books.”
Last week, The Daily Citizen published a letter from Todd Hunter about him and his neighbor receiving notices about trailers in their driveways. Hunter wrote that his boat had been in his driveway for the “past nine-plus years without any complaints from neighbors or the city of Searcy.”
Referring to Hunter’s issue, Webb said the property maintenance code “says that no person shall park or cause to be parked any truck with a capacity larger than 1 ton, tractor, mobile home, bus, van, camper or trailer or any other similar motor vehicle or trailer across any public street, public right of way, public alley or in the front yard of any private property within the incorporated city limits.”
Webb said there are three exceptions in the code: “loading and loading out merchandise, construction job sites where vehicles are left and used for working and temporary use such as a special event. So basically that’s where it says you can’t park a trailer in your front yard.
“The definition of a front yard is a yard extending across the front of a lot, between the side yard lines and being the minimum horizontal distance between the street line and the principal building. On corner lots, the front yard should be considered any yard that has street frontage. So a corner lot, you can’t park a trailer on either side that faces the street.”
He said when it comes to allowing residents to not obey the code, “where do you draw the line?”
“Todd Hunter’s fishing boat probably looks just fine, but what about the next guy down the street that’s got a 1952 ski boat that’s in his driveway?” Webb asked.
“We kind of have to think like what if ever person on the block did as these people are wanting to do, what would it look like?
“These codes are in place to enhance the property values and make our neighborhoods look nice. They are all done with good intentions but sometimes it’s kind of hard to draw the line. Where do you draw the line as far as what looks good and what doesn’t? That’s what a lot of people fail to realize. It’s OK for them to park their trailer there, but they don’t really want their next-door neighbor parking some old junky trailer next to them and we can’t tell the difference in them.”
Residents violating the property maintenance code get a warning, Webb said, and then will get a violation notice, receiving a citation. Then, if they don’t move the trailer or whatever type of vehicle it is “they will have to go to court and tell the judge why they haven’t moved it.”