City staff in Winfield are sending out letters, using social media and knocking on doors to remind people of a new ordinance that prohibits residents from parking in their front yards, or any side yard that runs along the street.
In June, city commissioners approved a new ordinance that was first developed by the Winfield Planning Commission, which had been reviewing all city zoning regulations. City engineer Patrick Steward said the city had over time received complaints from residents around town about vehicles parked in the front yards of residences.
“We let (the planning commission) know there have been complaints,” Steward said Tuesday. “And they felt like there should be some sort of regulation put in place to address it. A lot of communities have similar regulations. A lot don’t.”
The ordinance still allows for parking in the front yard provided it is on a paved surface.
“Realistically, not that we would encourage this,” Steward said.”One could pave their whole front yard and still park there.”
The law applies to vehicles, trailers, RVs and boats, too. Residents can still park in their backyards or any side yard that doesn’t run along the street.
So far, the city has sent out just under a dozen or so letters. Right now, Steward said, the goal is to inform residents about the ordinance and give them an opportunity to make other arrangements.
“We haven’t taken anyone to court,” he said. “The intent is not to punish anyone, but to get them into compliance over time.”
Steward said the issue is mostly one of aesthetics and yard maintenance. During rainy and snowy weather vehicles can leave ruts that fill up with water.
“It’s about trying to protect neighboring properties,” he said.
Those who continually fail to comply could face a complaint filed in Winfield municipal court and fines up to $500.
The city has posted on its Facebook page about the new ordinance. Some who responded were not pleased:
“How is this legal? How can you tell people what to do on their property they own? I smell some lawsuits.”