Controversial plan would let some RVs park on driveways in Elgin
The Elgin City Council on Wednesday will discuss a controversial proposal to allow a test program for motorized RVs under 25 feet long to park on residential driveways from May through September.
The measure is opposed by city staff members and a majority of the planning and zoning commission. The council also will vote on allowing taxis and pickup trucks up to 12,000 pounds -- the rule now is 8,000 pounds -- to park on driveways, but those initiatives have widespread support.
Residents have been gathering signatures for competing petitions involving the measure.
It's about allowing families to enjoy recreational time, said resident Cheryl Jacob, who also petitioned the council four years ago.
"For me, it's my husband and our dog. For some it's a family of five-plus. This is what they can afford for family quality time. They can't afford hotels, even plane fares and three meals a day at restaurants," Jacob said. "A lot of us just want to have the right to put our personal property on our personal property as other suburbs allow. We know there is an extremely large group of RVs that would really like this to be possible."
But resident Fred Moulton said if RVs are allowed, "it will appease a small minority and irritate the majority."
"A lot of people I initially spoke with were not aware of this at all," Moulton said. "If the ordinance is changed, people won't realize it until it happens -- and then they are going to get upset."
Outdoor RVs will lead to the deterioration of Elgin's neighborhoods, affecting aesthetics, front yard views and home values, resident Carl Missele said. "The objective of the planning and zoning commission and the city council is to prevent decay, to protect the community against decay," he said.
Some RVs supporters have called this "a good start," Missele said, which makes him worry that next they will push for nonmotorized RVs, pop-up campers and more.
The RV measure has strong support from Councilman Corey Dixon, who said he worked with city staff members to develop a palatable proposal.
"It's seasonal and it will only be on a trial basis," he said. "So if it doesn't work, there is a sunset (clause) and it just goes away."
Code officers would monitor that RVs are lawfully parked, including within 3 feet of lot lines, Dixon said. As for the character of the city, "the people are part of the character of the neighborhood," he said.
Moulton said he also worries that in older neighborhoods with narrow driveways, people will park cars on the street to make way for RVs.
Outdoor RV parking is prohibited in many subdivisions on the west side, including Dixon's.
Moulton said council members who live in such subdivisions should recuse themselves from voting on RVs.
Dixon said that's ridiculous. "If RVs were allowed in my neighborhood I'd be perfectly fine with it," he said.
Council members tabled the RV proposal last month to allow Councilman Baldemar Lopez, who was sworn into office May 8, to vote on it. Lopez said last week he was reviewing the issue and the sunset clause gives him "peace of mind."
According to a survey of 19 suburbs done by the city, five -- Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Des Plaines, East Dundee and Mount Prospect -- allow RV parking in front driveways and 10 do not, including Aurora, Arlington Heights, Carpentersville, Oak Park and Waukegan.
Four allow it with restrictions: Bartlett and St. Charles during the warm season, South Elgin on residential lots along the Fox River, and West Dundee if they are under 20 feet long.