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RV owners aren't on board with Fort Worth ordinance

Cy Francis has loved driving recreational vehicles across the country for 24 years, but when he parks his RV at home, others don't enjoy it as much.

"Some people are saying it spoils the view of the neighborhood," he said.

Such complaints led to an ordinance approved July 8 by the Fort Worth City Council that regulates where homeowners can park RVs.

"I'm opposed to it because my driveway is considered private property and I pay taxes on it," Francis said. "It should not be subject to regulation."

The ordinance will no longer allow large or oversize vehicles such as RVs, boat trailers or converted buses to park in front of homes or in driveways. Such vehicles will have to be parked in a side or rear yard behind a screening fence at least 6 feet tall. The ordinance defines a large vehicle as being between 26 and 40 feet long and oversize as 40 feet or longer.

What's happening

Francis believes the problem lies with this rule. Even if he were issued a permit, his RV is 26 feet long and the driveway 33 feet. However, there is no sidewalk running parallel to the street.

"If my RV were blocking the sidewalk, I would agree with the ordinance, but it's not there," he said. "The 10-feet issue is a sacred cow the city's not willing to change."

Brandon Bennett, director of code compliance for Fort Worth, said the RV ordinance was created to prevent oversize vehicles from obstructing sidewalks, rights of way and views.

"We have had very few complaints from people about RVs that are parked in side or rear yards," he said. "The problem is with the ones parked in the street or driveway. The RV would go from the garage to the curb, making it hard for people to back up."Surrounding cities such as Arlington and Grapevine have similar parking ordinances for oversize vehicles. In Arlington, boats and RVs are allowed in residential areas if they are parked on asphalt or concrete surfaces in the front or side yard of a property. Such vehicles cannot be longer than 30 feet or they are not allowed in residential areas. RVs in Grapevine must be in side or rear yards unless a permit allowing the vehicle to be parked in a driveway is acquired.

North Richland Hills does not allow vehicles more than 7 feet tall to be parked in residential areas, while Mansfield restricts by weight. Southlake does not allow RVs that can't fit in a garage in residential areas.

What's next

The city held several meetings before passing the ordinance to address both sides of the issue. Bennett said they were able to adjust the ordinance with recommendations of RV owners and those seeking such an ordinance.

"We felt like we found a good middle-of-the-road approach," he said.

Marion Pratt, who spoke at the public hearing before the ordinance was passed, said it was not strict enough and that insufficient information was provided to the public.

"I hoped the RVs would have to be at least 30 feet from the street," she said.

Pratt said RVs that block views from homes could negatively affect property values in addition to the safety concerns.

"They are very obstructive against the landscape," she said.

Regardless of the constraints of his driveway, Francis does not plan to get rid of his RV or put it in a storage yard, which he considers unsafe.

"People that wake up in the morning and see an RV outside and don't like it need to get a life," he said. "They need to go RV'ing."

Staff writer Susan Schrock contributed to this report.