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Illinois Ordinance Restricts Outdoor Storage of Boats and RVs

By Charles Bollinger 

Village trustees in Glen Carbon, Ill., were asked by a representative of realtors for more time to hammer out details on two ordinance amendments this week, while four other amendments passed with little to no discussion Tuesday.

Ultimately, on the request for more time, they said “no.”

The first ordinance amendment at issue pertains to recreational vehicles (RVs) and boats, while the other amendment that prompted more discussion relates to open storage. Both ultimately were approved Tuesday.

Ron Deedrick, a local government affairs director with the Illinois Realtors Association, spoke during the public comment portion of the village board meeting.

“Last fall, I recall the village had discussions on how an RV could be in one’s driveway, and at that time, it seemed as if it was discussion in terms of allowing a carve-out, whether that be 48 hours, 72 hours or something of the like,” he said. “For instance, we have in-laws in town and they will winterize their RV in the fall and unwinterize it in the spring, so it could be in their driveway for three or four days. The rest of the time, during the summer, it is at a proper facility in town. They’ve never had any complaints from their neighbors or from building and zoning.”

Deedrick said he hopes to see some sort of amendment to the ordinance as the discussion seemed to lean toward more stringent guidelines than what were initially mentioned last year.

The RV and boat amendment says that with the exception of travel trailer parks and commercial establishments engaged in the sale of RVs or boats, they shall be parked to comply with the following regulations:

  • Not more than one RV or one boat shall be parked on any lot
  • No RV or boat shall be used as a dwelling
  • No RV or boat shall be used as an office or for any other commercial purposes
  • No RV or boat shall be parked in front of the front facade of an existing residence, either in the front yard or driveway, on any lot. RVs or boats may be parked in the side and rear yards

Village Administrator Jamie Bowden said the only change in the RV and boat amendment is to make it for single-family zoning. The other important point is that enforcement on this will not begin until after Sept. 4, which is Labor Day, he said.

After that date, residents will need to make arrangements to find another place to park boats on an approved surface in a side yard.

Complaints vs. proactive crackdown

Bowden also said discretion, not immediate enforcement, will be used regarding RV complaints. Once a complaint is received, a code enforcement or police officer will call the resident with the RV to find out the situation. Bowden said in his own neighborhood there are two or three RVs that appear set up and may be in the neighborhood for a week.

Deedrick asked if 85% of this will be complaint-based or if it will be proactive enforcement. Bowden said the village’s newer neighborhoods have covenants which are self-regulating. Bowden said the village is not really out to be punitive but to achieve compliance with village codes.

Village Attorney James Schrempf weighed in.

“Any of these type ordinances — and Mr. Deedrick and I have discussed these kinds of things before in other municipalities — any of these ordinances, the means of enforcement is key,” he said. “You’ve gotta have reasonable people trying to enforce these. He often brings up, ‘Well, what if you don’t have reasonable people that you do today at some future date?'”

Deedrick implied someone in the future could be a stickler for following zoning rules to the letter. Schrempf said in that case, revisiting the ordinance would be necessary. 

Schrempf said in some cases, some residents might try to take advantage of any loopholes present in the ordinance, such as taking the RV for a drive around the block before the time period expires and arguing they now get another set number of hours to park the RV at their home.

“Hopefully, it will be reasonable people dealing with reasonable people,” Schrempf said, telling Deedrick that if he learns this amendment is being abused, he should call Mayor Bob Marcus. 

Outside storage an issue, too

On the open storage amendment, Deedrick said common sense would dictate that everyone could agree on the portions concerning appliances, building debris, vehicle parts, etc. Other items, such as bicycles, lawn mowers and ladders visible at apartment complexes, for example, particularly on patios or balconies, may fall in a gray area. He said he saw three apartments in a row that had grills in the back.

“The way this ordinance is written, you would have to add on storage facilities as this ordinance would not allow those grills to be visible,” Deedrick said.

He requested they table the open storage measure to allow for more time to negotiate with village staff and Schrempf.

Bowden said this is a new ordinance regarding junk storage. Initially proposed to go into effect in all village residential districts, it shall be unlawful to store, maintain or permit appliances, building materials or building debris, vehicle parts, boat parts, scrap metal, machine parts, indoor furniture, bicycles, tools, ladders, lawn mowers, weed eaters, landscaping tools, extension cords, buckets, coolers, spray jugs, dollies, wheelbarrows, paint cans, animal cages or carriers, strollers or car seats, garbage or garbage sacks, trash, or similar items so as to be visible from any adjoining private property or any public property. 

All items prohibited must be stored inside a building, garage or shed. When not in use, smokers or grills must be stored either behind the home or in a building, garage or shed. Cut firewood, which should be neatly stacked in lengths, is not to exceed three feet for the personal use of the owner or occupant, and which is stored in a side or rear yard and elevated at least three inches above ground level, shall be permitted.

Rubbish, garbage, trash or other related items placed outside for collection by an authorized waste hauler not more than 24 hours prior to the designated collection date for that property shall be permitted.

“The one thing I do think that makes sense is in an apartment building is when someone has a grill outside,” Bowden said. He suggested modifying the measure so that when not in use, grills must be stored behind the home or in a building, garage or shed, before he suggested that the measure get laid over to a future meeting.

Bowden also wanted to move to include bicycles to be held to the same conditions as grills.

Subdivision rules may differ

Trustee Ben Maliszewski said many complainers will call the police to have them enforce subdivision ordinances, where the village lacks responsibility and authority to enforce.

“I think these are good ordinances and provides the village with some help with subdivisions to help the enforcement of sloppy yards,” he said.

Maliszewski added he wasn’t a fan of laying it over. “The sooner we get this in place, the better off we’ll be.” He suggested that it pass as is with the understanding that further tweaks and fine-tuning will be needed later.

Marcus asked what residential districts this applies to and Schrempf responded that all of them are included. Bowden said he wanted to exclude multifamily zoning from this. Trustee Mike Sonderegger agreed.

Trustee Victor Smith asked if the amended measure would be ready by the next meeting. Bowden said yes. Trustee Nekisha Omotola suggested adding scooters to the category with bicycles so it is more encompassing.

First, trustees voted on Trustee Victor Smith’s amendment, then they voted on the original motion as amended. Both passed unanimously.

Charles Bolinger covers Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Edwardsville Township and the Collinsville School District for The Edwardsville Intelligencer. A graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, he has been writing for the paper since 2018. 

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