Council debates definitions before approving minor changes to municipal code enforcement

By Dan Aznoff | Mar 01, 2019

Members of the Mill Creek City Council are unified in their desire to maintain the charm of the neighborhoods that are a vital element in the city’s character.

So they had no problem approving a series of changes to the language of code enforcement regulations to keep old vehicles off neighborhood roads or limiting the time construction vehicles could be parked on streets.

But they were challenged with some of the language in the revised set of guidelines.

The first issue was a change in the code that prohibits inoperable vehicles from being stored in the driveway of a home. Before the regulations were changed by a unanimous vote of the council on Tuesday, Feb. 26, city code prohibited “inoperable vehicles from being stored in driveways.

The approved changes replaced the term “inoperable” with “junk vehicle,” but that did not happen until councilmembers could agree on what constituted a “junk” vehicle.

The proposed changes, presented to the council by Associate Planner Sherrie Ringstead, defined a junk vehicle as “being three years old or older, extensively damaged, inoperable or with a fair market value equal to its scrap value.”

Councilmember John Steckler questioned how the city had determined that the of age three years was junk, while Mike Todd pointed out that older cars have greater value if they are maintained as show cars.

By the end of the evening, the council approved the proposed changes with a 72-hour limit on parking recreational vehicles or boats in front or side yards while they are ether being cleaned or loaded. The council also voted to eliminate the time element in favor of a requirement that vehicles have current registration.

Commercial vehicles

The associate planner also proposed changes to the municipal code prohibiting commercial vehicles in excess of 6,000 pounds from being parked on residential lots. She proposed increasing the weight restrictions to a gross weight of 10,000 pounds.

“6,000 pounds is an outdated figure,” Ringstead explained to the council. “That’s about what a (Ford) F-150 used for commuting can weigh.”

She also introduced a provision that would prohibit motorized construction equipment from being stored on residential lots, with the exception of equipment “being used in conjunction with an approved construction project.”

Todd questioned the proposal, asking about what would happen to a large van used as a work vehicle.

“You see trucks and vans with ladders with the name of the company painted on the side,” Todd said. “That is clearly a commercial vehicle. Will these regulations impact them as well?”

In the end, the council clarified the definition of a commercial vehicle as a motor vehicle of at least 10,000 pounds gross weight with three or more axels.

New or better

The third issue clarified by a vote of the council last month had to do with regulations that originally required “all buildings be maintained in original or better condition.”

The regulation written when the city was new was modified to require that all buildings be maintained in good repair.

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