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Mountain Home homeowners may find themselves underneath some new ordinances regulating parking and unsanitary conditions on their property as Mountain Home’s City Council and Mayor work to find a way to address a series of complaints about the state of some neighborhoods.
The two ordinances, which have already been read at least once during a City Council meeting, could potentially have homeowners paying fines and receiving misdemeanor charges for being out of compliance.
At this time, the ordinance seeking to regulate parking has been tabled for further discussion, while the ordinance seeking to regulate unsanitary conditions, which covers the length of grass, fallen leaves, and more, is scheduled to be read for a third and final time on June 23.
Regulating the Parking of Vehicles on Unimproved Surfaces
The ordinance seeking to regulate the parking of vehicles on private property may have some homeowners scrambling to extend driveways and build privacy fences in their backyards.
The ordinance, which was proposed during last month’s City Council meeting, came about to address some of the long-term complaints that have come into the Mountain Home Police Department about how people have been using their yards.
Complaints range from deteriorating boats sitting in the middle of yards to having several decaying vehicles being parked out front of a home at all times.
Under the proposed ordinance, a person can commit an offense if they park a vehicle in the front yard on any surface other than an ‘improved parking space’. Improved parking spaces are defined as an area used for parking or storage of vehicles that are overlaid or otherwise paved with concrete, asphalt, paving stones, or other hard-surfaced, durable material approved by the building official.
Residents could also find themselves in trouble for parking vehicles along the side and rear of the home unless that solid, opaque screening fence or wall at least six feet in height hides the vehicles.
Vegetation such as trees and solid hedgerows of evergreen shrubs can be used as well.
This parking ordinance also seeks to reign in the size of driveways by stating that they cannot take up more than 50% of a person’s residential front yard.
Penalties for violating this new ordinance could potentially include misdemeanor charges for each offense and a fine of at least $50 to $500.
Regulating ‘Unsanitary Conditions’ within the City of Mountain Home
The ordinance to regulate unsanitary conditions within Mountain Home also brings with it the potential of misdemeanor charges and fines from $50 to $500. The ordinance could also allow the city to impose a lien against homeowners for being out of compliance with city regulations.
The proposed ordinance, which is moving forward to its third reading, requires that all property owners are required to cut grass and weeds so that they do not exceed nine inches in height. Owners are also required to remove garbage, rubbish, inoperative motor vehicles, boats, or other unsightly or unsanitary things.
Homeowners will also be on the hook to eliminate stagnant water pools or any other unsanitary thing by filling them in. It shall also be unlawful for property owners to allow the accumulation or development of any of the things listed above, including weeds.
It should be noted that some of the definitions of weeds, rubbish, and garbage are so broad in the ordinance that homeowners could find themselves receiving fines and criminal charges for simply not raking the leaves out of their lawns fast enough in Autumn or for having one too many dandelions pop up in their yard over the summer.
Concerns over regulations
Almost every member of the City Council has raised some concerns over the language used within each ordinance. Both Jennifer Baker and Paige Evans raised concerns over homeowners’ property rights during the introduction of both ordinances, and Bob Van Haaren pushed to table the parking ordinance so that more discussion could occur.
The council as a whole did agree that the issues as defined in the ordinance, such as vehicles being left on lawns for 20 years, need to be addressed.
City officials such as Mayor Hillrey Adams and Mountain Home Police Chief Eddie Griffin contend that the ordinances were written in such a manner so that they would have teeth to them, but said that the enforcement of the ordinances would come down to the discretion of police officers after they receive a complaint.
As it stands now, city officials say that the current ordinances on the books are toothless and do not allow the city to demand that people clean up their properties.
The third reading for the ordinance surrounding ‘unsanitary conditions’ will occur during City Council’s next meeting on June 23.