Committee Frowns On Parking In Front Yard

In response to numerous complaints from people concerned about property values and the appearance of their neighborhoods, Wheeling officials are working to keep residents from parking vehicles in their front yards.

Tom Connelly, assistant director of the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development, proposed some changes to Wheeling’s laws governing off-street parking before City Council’s Rules Committee on Tuesday. Committee members, which include Councilmen Robert “Herk” Henry, David Miller and Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey, unanimously approved the plan.

Wheeling already forbids front yard parking in commercial and industrial areas, but the new rules would eliminate an exception written into the code for residential districts. The section of code that forbids trailers, truck cabs, campers and boats from being parked in front yards also would be expanded to include automobiles and passenger trucks.

Connelly presented photos taken in various neighborhoods including Warwood, Wheeling Island, Elm Grove, Woodsdale and the Clator/Pleasanton areas, showing the damage that occurs when vehicles are parked in front yards on a regular basis.

“Over time, ruts start to form, (and) it takes away from the character of the property and mud starts to collect in the street,” he said.

City code defines a front yard as “a yard extending the full length of the front lot line and back to a line paralleling the front lot line and intersecting the principal building at its farthest point from the lot line.” Fahey pointed out that under that definition, many driveways could be considered part of a front yard.

“You can still park your car in your driveway,” assured Connelly, noting the new law specifies that parking is permitted on driveways that are used to gain access to a garage or carport. He said existing driveways that at one time may have led to a garage that no longer exists wouldn’t be affected, either.

In other business, committee members again addressed the issue of relaxing Wheeling’s residency requirement for city employees. As the law stands, city employees must live either within city limits or in Ohio County.

Under the proposed new rule, employees could also live in Brooke County south of Bruin Drive, an area which includes Wellsburg and Beech Bottom, or in northwestern Marshall County in an area including Benwood, McMechen, Glen Dale and Moundsville. The city Human Resources Department brought up the issue in August, citing difficulty in finding qualified applicants for certain positions.

The proposal passed 2-1 with Henry voting against. It is expected to be on the full City Council’s agenda for its 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 meeting.