TREASURE ISLAND — A proposed new ordinance would prohibit major car repairs in residential driveways and yards, but commissioners are split on whether it should include changing the car's oil.
Minor repairs that take no more than a day would be allowed: tuneups; routine adjustments; changing tires, lights and belts; and installing starters, alternators and batteries.
Specifically prohibited are major repairs to car engines, rear ends, transmissions, brakes and exhaust systems, as well as body work, frame straightening, and vehicle rebuilding or reassembly.
The proposed ordinance also would apply to cars owned by winter residents who remove wheels, leaving their cars on blocks during the off-season.
So far, commissioners agree that inoperable cars should not be on blocks and that car parts should not be strewn about yards and driveways for weeks and months at a time.
But the commission is split over whether to prevent residents from changing their cars' oil, even though the process takes far less than a day.
"Changing fluids is unacceptable," Commissioner Phil Collins said during a recent workshop discussion. "I do know people have flushed their radiators in their driveways. We all at one time or another have spilled something. Oil is heavy and if it gets into the street, it can get nasty."
Commissioner Ed Gayton Jr. also opposes driveway oil changes and said he has received "many complaints" about people taking four to five months to repair a car transmission.
Commissioners Alan Bildz and Robert Minning objected to including oil changes.
"I don't like this ordinance at all," Bildz said. "I like the intent, but if a repair takes only a day, what do we care what it is?"
Bildz said the proposed ordinance is an example of "too restrictive a government" that is infringing on private property rights.
Minning said: "I have a problem with going to people and saying 'you can't change your oil.' Let's not go overboard on this."
Mayor Mary Maloof admitted she has never changed her car's oil and asked that residents weigh in on the issue at the commission's regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"Where is this going to stop?" resident Jeff Warner asked in response to Collins' call for a prohibition on replacing fluids. "Can I put windshield wiper fluid in my car? Can I add a quart of oil or transmission fluid? Can I wash my car in the driveway? This just is a little extreme."
Collins said he would not prohibit "adding" fluids, and would even allow changing oil or other fluids as long as the work was done inside a resident's enclosed garage.
City Manager Reid Silverboard said he is proposing the ordinance in response to continuing complaints about "motors and other major parts being taken out of vehicles and left on the driveway or yard for days or weeks, as well as fluids draining onto the driveway and permeable surfaces."
Without a specific ordinance spelling out permitted and prohibited car repairs, the city cannot respond to these complaints, Silverboard said.