ASHLAND – After hearing input from the public, the Ashland City Council passed the second reading of a controversial ordinance regarding outdoor storage of vehicles, boats and recreational vehicles.
Ordinance 1193 setting the rules for outdoor vehicle storage was originally passed in 2014 and discussed again in 2016, but was not enforced.
“I guess we have to apologize we did not enforce it at the time,” said Council Member Jim Anderson.
The ordinance came before the council last Thursday for an amendment that would clarify the type of hard surface on which vehicles are allowed to be stored outdoors. The original ordinance stated that permeable interlocking pavers installed on an aggregate setting infiltration opening filler aggregate, edge restraint and weed-inhibiting fabric can be used.
The Ashland Planning Commission recommended also allowing white rock or gravel with a prescribed thickness and required edging and weed fabric.
The planning commission also asked the council to clarify how a trailer is measured to meet the regulations. Council Member Bruce Wischmann suggested changing length of trailer allowed in the ordinance from 15 to 16 feet because he said 15-feet trailers are not typically available.
The council also discussed the two-vehicle limit for vehicles stored outside. Mayor Rick Grauerholz said many people live on large lots and own more than two recreational vehicles. Council Member Jake Crnkovich agreed that two might be restrictive for some people.
But Building/Zoning Administrator Bill Krejci pointed out that it would be difficult to enforce different numbers for larger lots.
“It’s going to be a chore if you start making it too complicated for us to try and manage,” he said.
Council Member Chuck Niemeyer agreed it would be hard to enforce and said he thought two was “more than adequate.”
The number of vehicles was not changed, but the council did agree to clarify the type of hard surfaces allowed and to change the trailer size to 16 feet when the third and final reading is voted upon during the first meeting in May.
The public has been putting in its two cents on the ordinance since February when the planning commission was first scheduled to discuss the subject. The item was postponed until the March 25 meeting, where several members of the public expressed their concern with the ordinance. Several comments on social media also showed dissatisfaction with the city’s regulations.
The council received several emails stating opposition to the ordinance prior to Thursday’s meeting.
Wischmann said there is a lot of misconception and inaccuracies in the public’s comments.
“I think this has gotten blown way out of proportion with what I’ve seen with the number of discussion with planning and zoning,” he said.