Where should residents park trailers and boats?

ESCANABA – Progress is being made on a revised ordinance of the parking of trailers and boats within the city limits of Escanaba. A committee met Wednesday at city hall to go over the draft to date.

Nine residents met with city officials to discuss proposed changes in the existing ordinance which hasn’t been revised for more than four decades.

Escanaba’s current ordinance does not allow the parking of any trailer on any street or other public place overnight. The present ordinance also does not address the parking of boats on city streets and boulevards.

Over the years, complaints of motor homes, campers, boats, and utility trailers parked in the city have been addressed on an individual complaint basis.

Issues included trailers blocking the sight of drivers and pedestrians, trailers being unsightly to neighbors, and trailers limiting street access to emergency vehicles like fire trucks.

Last summer, city officials and police issued 39 warnings to educate residents on the city ordinance and laws regarding the parking of trailers on boulevards and streets. A citizens committee was then formed this fall to update the current ordinance.

Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole, Escanaba Public Safety Director Ken Vanderlinden, and Escanaba Community Preservation Director Blaine DeGrave researched ordinances from other municipalities.

“The three of us looked at trailer ordinances from across the country,” said O’Toole. Thirteen cities were polled in the Upper Peninsula.

More than half of the local communities did not have specific trailer ordinances and either experienced no issues or addressed problems on a complaint basis, according to Vanderlinden. Cities which do have specific trailer ordinances include Negaunee, Norway, Menominee, and Iron River. Iron Mountain is presently working on a trailer ordinance, he added. O’Toole noted, “There are a couple communities watching what we’re doing.”

Escanaba’s proposed ordinance would allow the parking of trailers and boats for up to 48 hours for loading, unloading and cleaning.

A concern expressed by some committee members Wednesday was what alternatives there are for residents who cannot park their campers on their property or street. The security of trailers parked somewhere else was also a concern.

The group concurred that not everyone’s needs can be met with a city ordinance and some exceptions would have to be addressed individually.

“There are going to be unique circumstances so an appeals process is added,” said O’Toole, reminding committee members the city needs ordinances to enforce and public safety officers need laws to enforce.

The ordinance is “for the purpose of preserving the peace, health and safety of the residents of the city and the surrounding community,” states the draft. “This is a work in progress,” O’Toole said, asking the group to review the proposed draft and offer adjustments.

Once a final ordinance is drafted, two public hearings must be held prior to council adopting the document, explained O’Toole, anticipating the process to be completed by this spring.

“We’re getting there,” he commented before the meeting adjourned.