By Bob Massey

Herald correspondent

Changes might be coming to the Harker Heights Code of Ordinances concerning heavy vehicle parking in residential areas and vehicles parked on residential lawns.

In a 3 p.m. Harker Heights City Council workshop Tuesday, council members heard from Joseph Molis, director of planning and development, and discussed the two issues at length that have been described by citizens as nuisances that degrade the aesthetic character of neighborhoods and potentially cause damage to city streets and infrastructure.

Right now, truck parking is allowed in some residential areas as long as the property owner has an off-street parking spot that is paved and there’s room on their lot to accommodate the truck. They have a permit that lasts for one year.

The newly written ordinance, however, will not include the residential parking permit.

“What the council wants us to do is prohibit heavy vehicle parking in residential neighborhoods,” City Manager David Mitchell said.

In Section 72.20 of the current Code of Ordinances, heavy vehicles are described as: any vehicle that is 18 feet or more in length, seven feet or more in width, nine feet or more in height, exceeds a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds, trucks, truck tractors or the implement which exceeds a gross weight of 10,000 pounds plus its load.

Council members suggested that the wording of the new ordinance would state that once they take action residents would have about a year grace period to be in compliance.

Off-street parking was the second issue brought up for discussion. Mitchell told the Herald that the city gets more complaints about this one that anything else.

“Neighbors are displeased with residents parking on the grass. Most cities near us don’t allow this. The reasons for that are vehicles can leak fluids that are absorbed into the ground and the risk of ground fires in the summer when the grass is dry. These are safety concerns which make them a priority,” he said.

Molis suggested to the council that they make it an offense for a person to park a vehicle, trailer or RV on a landscaped area in a residential area.

The process to get to a new official ordinance on both items will include: rewriting of the code by the staff of the director of planning and development, general review by the City Attorney and consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

A public forum will possibly be held in April about these items prior to being voted on by the Council.

It could be May before the ordinance goes before the council for final consideration.

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