Dillon Town Council debates enforcement of recreational vehicle law
Residents of the town of Dillon may need to start thinking about storing their boats and recreational vehicles if local officials decide to enforce a law that’s never been policed before.
During the Dillon Town Council’s Tuesday work session, Dan Burroughs, town engineer and community development coordinator, led a discussion about a section of the municipal code that requires residents to screen boats and RVs parked on their property from public view. Although the ordinance had never been enforced before, it was brought up as a topic of conversation because of a growing number of violators. As of Tuesday, Burroughs said there were 21 residences with boats or RVs parked on their property.
“It’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ question in my mind about whether we want to enforce it or not,” Burroughs said. “We either care or we don’t care, and if we don’t care, then we change the code. It’s that simple.”
According to town code language, boats and RVs must be screened from public view by fencing, landscaping or in a garage or similar structure, such as a canopy, Burroughs said.
If officials decided to enforce the ordinance in the near future, costs to come into compliance could be significant for some residents. Locals could apply for a land use variance to avoid the labor associated with constructing a fence or building a garage, Burroughs said, but that’s also not an inexpensive process.
Dillon police chief Mark Heminghous added another factor to consider, saying there are no fines or penalties associated with the local law. Violators would therefore have to appear before a municipal court judge to receive their punishment.
The discussion sparked a spirited debate between Councilmen Erik Jacobsen and Mark Nickel. Jacobsen currently has a camper parked in his driveway.
“As a violator myself, I would say we need to enforce it,” Jacobsen said. “There are a lot of eyesores out there that need to be cleaned up and if it’s a law that’s been on the books for a long time, then let’s enforce it.”
Nickel, on the other hand, questioned whether or not screening boats and RVs from the public would alleviate the problem or add to it.
“Wouldn’t a fence or some kind of structure be a bigger eyesore than the boat or the RV itself?” Nickel said. “I don’t think this is a problem, especially if we aren’t hearing anything about it from the public.”
Although Mayor Kevin Burns didn’t have any strong feelings about the ordinance, he did say it was clear from the discussion that council would need to take some course of action to address the issue in the coming weeks or months.
“It doesn’t really matter to me one way or the other, but I do think it’s bad policy to have laws on the books we have no intention of enforcing,” he said.
The council decided to direct the issue to the Planning & Zoning Commission, which is required to vet and approve any zoning changes in accordance with Chapter 16 of the Dillon Municipal Code. The town council will host a public meeting Wednesday, Nov. 5, to hear from local residents about whether or not boats and RVs parked in driveways or stored on private property is an issue serious enough to necessitate action by town officials.
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