City looks to curb parking, storing, rigs on the grass

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Columbia Falls is looking to stop parking on the grass on landscaped city right of way.

The city is looking to send a message to residents: Don’t park on the grass.

For years people have been parking on grass and other landscaped right-of-way in Columbia Falls, often storing pickup trucks, campers, boats and even vehicles that are scrap.

But now the city is eyeing new parking and storage regulations that would crimp long-term on street parking and prohibit parking on the grass entirely.

Some residents have installed sprinkler systems on the right of way, only to have neighbors park on top of them, breaking the heads.

One section of the proposed ordinance would make it “unlawful for any person to store or leave upon the streets any motor vehicle for indefinite periods of time; it is the intent hereof that no motor vehicle shall be parked or left on such streets unless it is in use. Any motor vehicle not used at least once every 72 hours shall be deemed to be stored in violation hereof.”

Another new section looks to preserve landscaped areas — areas that are grass and not gravel, from parking.

The draft new section of law reads: “No automobile, vehicle, camper, motor home or trailer shall be parked on the designated City right of way that is maintained grass, landscape, or mulch. Parking on the city right of way is allowed when the area will not be damaged or substantially altered by such parking of said vehicles. Such legal areas would be identified by packed gravel, dirt, pavement or other materials that are not maintained landscape, grass or mulch.”

In addition, the city is looking to crack down on storing vehicles on city right of way as well.

The proposed ordinance reads: “Leaving trailers, motor homes, campers on streets: It is unlawful for any person to store or leave upon the streets any trailers, motor homes, campers on the street for indefinite periods of time; it is the intent hereof that no trailers, motor homes, campers shall be parked or left on such streets unless it is in constant and current use. Any trailers, motor homes, campers not used at least once every 48 hours or parked in a location for current use shall be deemed to be stored in violation hereof. The owner of such a vehicle shall be responsible for a violation hereof as well as the person so leaving it.”

Council noted they’ve had a host of complaints over the years about people storing rigs on city right of way, which prompted the proposed new laws.

The law would be complaint driven — the police don’t have plans to patrol the streets looking for violators, noted police Chief Clint Peters.

Council took no action on the matter. The hearing is continued until the June 5 city council meeting.

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