April 29, 2014

Prompted by renewed complaints about vehicles parked in yards - ranging from cars to boats to campers - the Carroll City Council is considering a parking ban.

The council discussed an ordinance provided by Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler during its Monday night meeting. The ban would prohibit residents from parking on grass or gravel in front or side yards. A vehicle could be parked only on an all-weather surface, such as asphalt or Portland cement concrete, and the paving could not take up more than 40 percent of the yard space.

A side lot would have to be connected to the curb via a paved driveway. Recreational vehicles and trailers would be allowed to be parked in rear yards.

Complaints regarding tractors, boats and vehicles in front yards often increase during the spring, said Cayler. Residents are starting to use the vehicles again, and moving the vehicles after or during a steady rain often results in muddy ruts being formed along the curbs in town. Those vehicles can also be a safety hazard when parked on corner lots - they can block the line of sight for drivers stopped at intersections, he added.

Cayler contacted officials from and reviewed policies of Marshalltown, Storm Lake, Belmond, Mason City and Newton, among other municipalities, before presenting the proposed ordinance to the council.

Residents in violation of the ban would likely receive a warning, followed by a parking ticket - a fine of $10, he said. If the resident continues to make no effort to move the vehicle, the violation could be increased to a municipal infraction, with a fine of up to $750.

"I don't see our officers driving around town looking for this unless it's very blatant, " Cayler said. "This gives us a tool - if we get a call, we can go look at it" and determine if the situation is a violation.

Mayor Adam Schweers suggested that the ordinance could also encourage residents who own rental properties to add parking to ensure there is enough space for the vehicles of all their tenants.

The council is waiting to take action until members hear feedback from the community.

In other action, the council approved salary increases for city employees. Police officers will receive a 1.5 percent increase on July 1 and a 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2015. Public works employees will receive a 50-cent-per-hour increase on July 1, 2014. All other full-time city positions will receive a 1.5 percent increase on July 1 and a 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2015. The volunteer fire department chief will receive a 3.5 percent increase as of Jan. 1, 2015.