ELK RIDGE, Utah County — Residents crowded into the tiny City Council chamber Tuesday to protest a new ordinance that prohibits them from parking their trailers, recreational vehicles and boats in their front yards.
The nuisance ordinance, passed in October, mandates a $50 a day fine for violators. Some residents said they panicked when they received a notice from the city, complete with photographs of their alleged violations, thinking they were being cited and subject to the fine.
But Mayor Dennis Dunn said no one had received a citation. What they received was the first in a three-step process leading to the $50 a day fine.
Some residents asked that the ordinance be repealed, while others lauded the council for passing it.
The council may add a fourth step: sending a preemptive letter informing residents about their violation and establishing a plan and time frame to resolve it before issuing a citation.
Paul Eddy said he lost a sale of his home when the potential buyer drove through town and saw numerous homes with trailers, old cars and boats parked in their front yards. The buyer claimed the hillside town in south Utah County was in "disarray," Eddy said.
"It's not about property values; it's about people values," resident Jim Harvey told the City Council. "Not one of you represent the values of Elk Ridge that these people hold. … People have the freedom to look bad."
"I don't want to be looking at your stuff," Diana Freeman countered. "If you want a boat or a trailer, don't make us look at it."
Dunn said he moved his trailer to his backyard and sold a vintage Porsche he wanted to restore so he could comply with the ordinance.
Based on a similar ordinance in Orem, the rules require that homeowners store their trailers, boats and RVs behind an enclosure. But the council may relent and let residents store one vehicle out front if the owner has nowhere else to put it. The ordinance allows owners of corner lots to do that now.
The council may also allow vehicles stored in the back to hang out beyond the home. However, they could hold the line when it comes to storing vehicles in the 9-foot or 14-foot setback between the street and the yard for safety reasons.
Dunn, whose term ends Dec. 31, said it would take the council a couple of months to sort out the issues and possibly change the ordinance. Some residents, however, expressed gratitude that the council was enforcing an ordinance to clean up such nuisances.
Other residents said they were offended that their neighbors took their complaints to the city rather than to them. When neighbors complain, they often do it anonymously, Dunn said.
"This will never go away," he said after the residents left, "even if we give this small group of people everything they want."
"They talk about rights, but not about responsibility," Councilman Raymond Brown said.