Changes to regulations for junk vehicles, trailers

Changes have been made by the Coon Rapids City Council to city code regulations governing junk vehicles and the number of trailers allowed on residential properties.

But the ordinance amendments adopted the council April 1 were somewhat different from those proposed by staff and recommended by the Coon Rapids Planning Commission late last year.

The main issues raised by the council when the ordinance was considered for adoption and tabled in December 2013 were the number of days a car can be worked on and the number that could be worked on in a residential zoning district, particularly for those people restoring old vehicles, as well as proposed language that would limit a residential property owner from having two boats on trailers and two utility trailers.

According to Planner Scott Harlicker, the proposed ordinance had limited the number of days a car could be worked on to 20 and limited the number of cars to one.

But council members in December did not see a reason for limiting the number of cars or the time they could be worked on in the garage if they are owned by a resident living at the home.

The language in the ordinance adopted by the council April 1 has no limit on the number of vehicles and the number of days a car can be worked on “inside a building, garage or accessory structure.”

The ordinance does include a provision, originally proposed, that current registration be displayed on the vehicles being worked on, so that they are not considered junk vehicles, something the existing code does not require, according to Harlicker.

Under the new ordinance, a vehicle without a current registration on display falls under the definition of a junk vehicle.

The amended ordinance also includes language on the “parking, storage and maintenance” of junk vehicles in industrial zoning districts. That can only occur if they are incidental to a permitted use and if the vehicles are being actively repaired.

These vehicles must be stored in an enclosed building or screened so they are not visible from public streets or adjoining properties.

This junk vehicles regulation is currently part of the commercial and office district, but not the industrial district, according to Harlicker.

To address the council’s concerns on the number of trailers being allowed on residential property, Harlicker proposed moving utility trailer regulations from the section regulating major recreational equipment in residential districts to the section dealing with number of vehicles allowed.

While the number of other trailers, such as utility trailers, does not change from the current two, Harlicker said that under the new language a boat and the trailer it sits on would be considered one major recreational vehicle and a utility trailer would not be considered a major recreational vehicle.

As an example, the new language would allow a resident to have a boat and trailer, a recreational vehicle, snowmobile and trailer and a utility trailer on their property, according to Harlicker.

Councilmember Paul Johnson voted against the amended ordinance because of a provision that limits the maximum number of major recreational equipment to two items per residence, whether stored inside or outside a building.

“Why are we worrying if they are stored in a garage,” Johnson said.

But Mayor Tim Howe said the issue might be if the property owner is running a repair business out of the garage, which would make a lot of noise if the door was not shut.

The ordinance changes would help the code enforcement people “do their job to keep the city looking nice,” according to Howe.

Councilmember Jerry Koch said he was very happy with the changes that had been made to address the council’s concerns.

The council voted 6-1, Johnson opposed, to adopt the amended ordinance.