SAFETY HARBOR — The city has had only two restrictions on owners of recreational vehicles: The RVs could not be used as living quarters or for storage.
In fact, the city has been such a haven for Holiday Ramblers and Fleetwoods one owner recently annexed his property into Safety Harbor because he "had some issues with the county in conforming with the county's RV regulations,'' said the city's senior planner, Ron Rinzivillo.
But the man's plan may have backfired.
In an effort to curb possible future problems, the City Commission on Monday voted to create further restrictions for the vehicles.
The new ordinance passed unanimously on its first reading Monday. The rules will be up for final approval at the next commission meeting Dec. 15.
The proposed restrictions, which also include boats:
• For a recreational vehicle to be stored on property, the lot must be at least 6,000 square feet and 50 feet wide except in the R-6, Mobile Home District.
• An RV parked in a front yard must be located within 10 feet of a side lot line or parked in a driveway so as not to block the view of the home from the street.
• RVs that are longer than 35 feet would be restricted to lots at least 10,000 square feet and 75 feet wide. The placement of the RV would be restricted to a side or rear yard no closer than 5 feet from a lot line and screened from view.
According to the city's Community Development Director Matt McLachlan, the commission also "recommended an amendment to the proposed ordinance that would limit the number of recreational vehicles stored in a front yard to one on lots less than 10,000 square feet.''
Discussion about the ordinance stirred up other issues related to RVs.
Jack Yarian, who lives in Harbor Heights, said there are so many large trailers and the like parked along the narrow streets that rescuers might have difficulty reaching victims during an emergency.
His wife, Joyce Yarian, said there are so many vehicles parked all over the yards in the neighborhood there is almost no need to mow the grass anymore.
Rinzivillo promised the couple he would look into possible code violations.
When City Commissioner Nadine Nickeson asked if it was lawful for people to "park on lawns'' in non-deed-restricted neighborhoods, McLachlan said it is.
"I think we have some work to do,'' said City Commissioner Nina Bandoni.
Nancy Besore, another Safety Harbor resident, said she is worried that seniors who own RVs and might be out of town won't be given ample notice of the ordinance change and a chance to give their input. She had other concerns as well.
"I'm very, very concerned about the idea of taking away property rights without the opportunity (for RV owners) to be heard,'' she said. "What's ugly to us might be a valued right to somebody who bought (property) in a non-deed-restricted area.''
Eileen Schulte can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153.