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A number of vehicles are seen (above and below) at the residence of former mayoral candidate Terry Smith of 3720 Chula Vista Drive S.W. Smith said working on cars is his hobby and no one has complained to him about the vehicles.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
A number of vehicles are seen (above and below) at the residence of former mayoral candidate Terry Smith of 3720 Chula Vista Drive S.W. Smith said working on cars is his hobby and no one has complained to him about the vehicles.

Kyle opposes ban on cars in yards
What's 'uncouth' living for some a 'common thing' for other people

By Evan Belanger
evanb@decaturdaily.com · 340-2442

Don't expect Decatur to follow Madison and pass an ordinance banning parked cars on lawns, if Mayor Don Kyle has anything to say about it.

Parking in yards can kill grass, lead to erosion and, some say, hurt a neighborhood's appearance and property values.

But, Kyle said such a law would place undue financial stress on local residents — many of whom can't afford it — by forcing some to construct or expand their driveways.

"To pass an ordinance that will retroactively force people to spend money when they might not have to, I don't think is right," he said.

Kyle also said it would be difficult for him to support an anti-yard-parking ordinance because vehicles parked on grass do not necessarily represent a public health hazard or public nuisance.

"We've got more than just what some people think is an uncouth way to live," he said. "To others it's a common thing.

"It's not undesirable to everybody, and economically it's not doable by everybody."

One local resident who does not find parking on grass undesirable is a former mayoral candidate, Terry Smith of 3720 Chula Vista Drive S.W.

A caller to The Daily complained that vehicles parked at Smith's residence are not the neighborhood norm and are eyesores. Smith said working on cars is his hobby and no one has complained to him about the vehicles.

"I think if a guy has a hobby, he ought to be able to work on his hobby if he wants," Smith said. "I'm not trying to cause anyone any problems."

Because Smith said all of the vehicles at his residence run and are licensed with the exception of one, none appear to be violating city code. Smith said he is trying to acquire a license for the other vehicle, but the previous owner has been unable to find the title.

Decatur code prohibits residents from parking inoperable cars within view of any city street or alley, including vehicles that run but are not properly licensed. Smith said he borrowed the heavy equipmentto clear the lot he purchased behind his house.

The Decatur zoning ordinance also requires most new, single-family homes to have at least two off-street parking spaces.

In conjunction with the existing laws, Kyle said encouraging developers to ban the practice through private covenants at subdivisions is the best the city can do.

In April, City Council President Billy Jackson said members of the council were discussing the possibility of banning yard parking, but he said several factors needed consideration first.

The Daily was unable to contact Jackson this week.

Statewide, at least three municipalities have ordinances prohibiting long-term yard parking — Madison, Montgomery and Hoover.

Madison City Councilwoman Cynthia McCollum said the ban, which the council passed about a year ago, was a response to complaints lodged with the city.

"It just brings down the neighborhood aesthetically," she said.

Madison Councilman Bob Wagner said the ordinance makes the city more attractive to people moving to North Alabama as a result of the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure program.

"We wanted to have a tool to improve the value of homes," he said. "It's worked well, and many of the complaints from the past have disappeared."

Among other Alabama cities considering a ban on yard parking is Tuscaloosa. The city council there could pass the ordinance this month.

Critics in Tuscaloosa say a ban on yard parking would make it more difficult to find parking within walking distance of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Historically, property owners around the stadium have sold yard-parking spaces on game days.

District 4 City Councilman Ronny Russell said he agrees with Kyle's concerns about a yard-parking ordinance.

Where to complain

If you’re tired of seeing a dilapidated building, litter, a drainage problem or an eyesore in your neighborhood, contact Decatur Community Development’s weed, junk and litter hot line at 341-4963. You can also contact The Daily newsroom at 340-2433 or news@decaturdaily.com.

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