ESCANABA - Two dozen people came together Tuesday to offer input on updating Escanaba's camper ordinance, taking into consideration traffic safety, neighbor courtesy and owners' needs.
A committee made up of city officials and residents is looking at ways to address these and other issues to bring the 1957 ordinance up to date and address complaints about the parking of campers and other trailers within city limits.
"I think collectively, as a community, we can solve this problem," said City Manager Jim O'Toole. "I would like to keep it simple and something everybody can live with," he added, pointing out different perspectives to consider - the camper owners and neighbors, as well as motorists.
Individual camper owners also have their own unique situations, O'Toole said, as was evident from the concerns expressed during the committee meeting. About half the people attending own campers.
Concerns included residents not having yard space to properly park their campers according to city specifications. Owners want to keep their campers on their property during the summer.
Neighbors don't want campers obstructing the view from their homes. Campers parked on boulevards can create blight concerns when grass is not mowed.
Campers and other trailers create safety hazards by blocking the sight of traffic, especially at intersections and driveways. They can also limit street access of emergency vehicles like fire trucks. Construction trailers and dumpsters were also concerns expressed.
Last summer, 39 violation warnings were issued to camper owners during stepped-up enforcement conducted in response to citizen complaints, noted O'Toole.
Escanaba Public Safety enforces the city's ordinance regarding the parking of campers on city streets and right-of-ways. The city's zoning code addresses other areas including the parking of campers on residential and commercial properties.
While reviewing the city ordinance at Tuesday's meeting, O'Toole offered preliminary suggestions he received from city officials including Ken Vanderlinden, Public Safety director, and Blaine DeGrave, director of the Escanaba Community Preservation Department, which enforces zoning codes.
Recommendations included updating the ordinance to cover campers, boats, towing trailers and motor homes. Specific time spans and specific distances to park from intersections were also presented.
O'Toole encouraged those attending the meeting to offer more "questions, comments and concerns" to the city. The meeting minutes and any additional input will be sent to them via e-mail or the postal system. The group will schedule its next meeting after the holidays.
After the meeting, O'Toole said, "The purpose of tonight was to try to find the problem and for people to talk about possible solutions that will make an ordinance more palatable to everybody."