Landscape

One-ton pickups were once in the middle of a controversy concerning a parking ordinance. They are now exempt from the newly revised Heavy Vehicle Ordinance.

The Heavy Vehicle and Residential Parking on Landscape ordinance, adopted on Sept. 8, 2020, by the Harker Heights City Council, will become effective Oct. 1.

Several public forums and public hearings were held regarding the ordinances prior to adoption by the City Council.

Workshops were originally held about these issues on Aug. 7, 2018, and Feb. 27, 2019. In addition, a public forum was held on July 15, 2019.

Comments and suggestions from those workshops and from the public forum assisted with the development of the draft ordinances.

These draft ordinances were presented to the resideents of Harker Heights for a review and comment period via a Virtual Public Forum due to the pandemic requirements. That forum was available from July 20, 2020, to Aug. 10, 2020. City Staff presented those findings and potential alternatives from the Virtual Public Forum to the Council on Aug. 18, 2020.

Since the adoption of the ordinances, the staff has focused their efforts on educational outreach, such as inserts for water bills and new water services, posts on social media and posting door hangers at some residences who would not be in compliance by October 1.

In a Sept. 3 press release, Assistant City Manager Jerry Bark stated, “The significant changes in the ordinance concern heavy vehicles, redefined as vehicles that exceed 20 feet in length, eight feet in width, 10 feet in height or weigh over 10,000 pounds are prohibited from parking on residential property.

Currently, these types of vehicles are prohibited from parking on public streets. This provision is in response to complaints by residents regarding the loading of equipment into commercial vehicles, the size of the vehicles, noise, safety and the visual impact on the neighborhood.”

At the Aug. 24, 2021, City Council meeting, the council adopted amendments to the ordinance in order to clarify the intent.

“During the public education period of implementation, it was brought to light that the intent of the discussion and clarification during the public forums and by the City Council were not clearly included in the adopted ordinance,” said Planning and Development Director Kristina Ramirez.

One of the major changes from the original ordinance states that ¾-ton and 1-ton pickups are not to be considered a heavy vehicle and are also exempt from the Heavy Vehicle Ordinance.

Section 72.21 of the parking ordinance, also does not apply to the following: (1) Heavy vehicles owned or leased by the City while being used by employees or agents of the City in the performance of their duties, (2) Heavy vehicles otherwise legally parked or left standing at a construction site while construction is in progress, (3) By public utility companies at a location where public service utilities are being repaired, installed, maintained, relocated or extended, (4) Effective Oct. 1, by an employee of a public utility, police department, fire department, ambulance service or tow-truck operator while on call.

At the same Aug, 24, 2021, City Council meeting In Section 155.061 of the code of ordinances was amended to clarify that, the prohibition found in division (A)(2) does not apply to: Residential properties that are over 1 acre in size and whose existing parking space is not visible from a public right of way are not required to have an all-weather surface driveway connecting the existing parking space to a public street or alley, provided that they have an all-weather surface driveway approach from the public street or alley to the property line and that their existing parking space meet the other requirements in this chapter of the ordinance.

Additional information concerning the parking ordinance updates can be found on the City of Harker Heights webpage https://harkerheights.gov/.

Additional questions can be addressed by contacting the Planning and Development Department at 254-953-5600 or by email: planning@harkerheights.gov

Harker Heights Assistant City Manager Jerry Bark

contributed to this story.

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