CRESTVIEW — Following the second reading of the ordinance amendment concerning recreational vehicles, the City Council held a public hearing.
According to Growth Management Director Teresa Gaillard, this new ordinance would affect 7,800 parcels of single-family homes and approximately 70 percent of the city. The ordinance would require that residents who own RVs park them on the side or back of their home and cover them with some type of screening.
The screening can be a 6-foot privacy fence, a faux fence, plants and shrubbery, or other forms of approved screening apparatus, according to Gaillard.
According to Councilman Doug Faircloth, the main reason for the ordinance amendment was to ensure residents aren’t hooking their RVs up to their homes, using the utilities and living out of them. With a 6-foot fence, he said, the city would not be able to tell if someone is living in their RV.
Another issue Faircloth had with the ordinance was the lack of specification of who approves the screening. According to Gaillard, the growth management department would approve the screening.
While the council discussed the amendment, Councilman Shannon Hayes said if the ordinance amendment is not approved, they will revert back to the previous ordinance which is more restrictive; RVs 24 feet in length or longer cannot be stored on property.
Councilman Joe Blocker questioned if the city is crossing the line by regulating private property. City Attorney Ben Holley said the city has a right to regulate what residents do on their private property.
According to Gaillard, the council did not provide firm feedback to staff when the ordinance was discussed at previous meetings, workshops and during a first reading. Councilman J.B. Whitten disagreed with her statement, and said they provided much feedback to city staff.
Residents approached the council to voice their opinions; among them was Andrew Rencich, who received a notice of code violation in early 2017.
"As I mentioned before… the ordinance… affects working and retired, middle-class families through the city of Crestview," Rencich said. "This ordinance is a gross government overreach on individual property rights. The way the ordinance is written leaves massive holes for possible litigation and is open to interpretation."
Rencich said the ordinance is discriminatory against RV owners, as other types of trailers are not mentioned. Resident Stephen Strom agreed.
"I don’t have a dog in this race, as I don’t have an RV," Strom said. "This is discriminatory. Flat out, no question about it… We can put any boat in our yard; I can put the Queen Mary on a trailer and park it in my yard… and it would be no problem."
Hayes made a motion to approve the ordinance and send it to the mayor and the city clerk to sign. Councilman Cox seconded the motion. According to Cox, the ordinance was well done; there was a length restriction before, and now there is not.
Whitten said the council promised the citizens they would continue on until the ordinance was fixed, and he feels it needs to be fine-tuned before passing. Most back yards aren’t equipped to take on an RV, and equipping them would be costly or impossible.
"I think we overdid it, and got carried away with what we wanted to do," Whitten said. "In case you can’t tell, I don’t support it."
The council voted on the previous motion to pass the ordinance, but it failed with only Cox and Hayes in favor. Hayes made a motion to hold a continuing workshop on the issue on Jan. 22, 2018, and all council members were in favor.
The moratorium was extended until the council can make a decision.