Stay tuned for updates
The Blue Ribbon Commission to discuss potential revisions to the trailer law and formulate enforcement recommendations to the Planning Department met on the evening of 09 MAY 2018. Due to employment reasons I was not personally able to attend. After following up with multiple members that were in attendance, I found out that the focus of the initial meeting was to try to come to a consensus on what §211-29C should mean (the temporary parking exception noted below) as well as to discuss the issues with §211-29A at a high level. Apparently several points were discussed but the aforesaid were the main two, and while unanimous agreement was reached on a couple points (one being that §211-29A could use some kind of a revision, at some point), others entailed more in depth discussion. PROGRESS!!!
Since I was not present, I am not in a position to report in any more detail than I did above, and I even hesitate to do that as it is second hand information (albeit from very reliable sources). The objective of this entry is to notify any concerned parties that the meetings are indeed moving forward as promised and progress appears to be in the making. More meetings and details are to follow. Stay tuned!
A member of our Facebook camping/boating group brought his camper home from storage to "de-winterize" it and received a summons from the Town of Clay for having it parked on his property. This confirms that the planning department is actively issuing court summonses while the Blue Ribbon Commission is working this. Also, from an enforcement standpoint the planning department does not appear to be observing the "Temporary Parking for Servicing Purposes" exception as stated in Town of Clay Code:
§211-29 "C. Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter to the contrary, the aforesaid prohibition does not apply to deliveries or temporary parking of vehicles for servicing purposes."
(I sent an email to the Commissioner of the Planning Department and the Code Enforcement Officer who has been issuing the summonses asking for clarification to this ordinance on 17 APR 2018. A copy of the email is here. As of 15 MAY 2018 I am still awaiting a response from the gentlemen and will publish it to ClayIssues.com if and when I receive such).
At the Town Board Meeting on 16 Apr 2018, The Town Supervisor held a vote to establish a "Blue Ribbon Commission" (basically a panel of experts on different areas of a topic) to formulate a recommendation to the Town Board to deal with the RV/Boat/Camper/Trailer law. The motion was approved 6-0.
Councilor Pleskach will be the Chairman of the group which will also include members from the Town Planning Dept, the camping/boating community, and the non-camping/boating community. Afterwards Councilor Pleskach said he intends to hold as many meetings as it takes for us to formulate a reasonable compromise/proposal for the Board (and that may only need to be one). Forward Progress!
Several of the campers and boaters in our group (including myself) emailed their address to the Councilman mentioned below in an invitation for him to come take a look at our personal situations. Sure enough, Sunday afternoon he did just that and stopped by to chat with several of us. We spoke for a while and I emphasized the desire to identify exactly what the requirements are that this law was/is intended to address prior to entertaining solutions (so we don't end up post-shaping our problem to fit our pre-selected solution). He seemed amenable to this and we discussed concerns regarding visibility, encouragement of "street-parking" (a potential consequence of filling available driveway space with trailers), and "storage lots" (many trailers all being kept in one yard/driveway). I of course brought up the group's objective of being able to use their boats, campers, and other possessions without imposing levels of inconvenience and expense that did not exist when we chose to move to Clay. I think we both agreed that given all these concerns/requirements, there are many options that are open to us outside of the complete prohibition of trailers over 22 feet long.
On Friday April 13, a Clay Town Councilman replied to several of the members of our Facebook group as a result of the letter writing campaign. The responses were initially very similar but, admittedly, the majority of the emails were very similar (mostly a slight tailor and send of the template on this site). When one of the members of our group engaged him, he received a very comprehensive and detailed reply of the steps the Councilman was taking to investigate this issue. What at first appeared to be a "thanks we'll look into it" response, turned out to be anything but. I also reached out to the Councilman and have been engaged in meaningful dialogue with him over the weekend. In short here was his comments that one member posted to our group:
"My belief is that the change to the code in April 2017 made it easier for residents to be in violation, rather than in compliance, and in my view that presents a fundamental flaw in the code. In order to find a solution, I believe there are four primary components to address:
1) As we have discussed in our exchanges, how do we balance the rural areas vs the suburban areas of the town. ...
2) I believe there is a safety component for the more densely populated neighborhoods; storing campers in driveways inherently pushes passenger vehicles further down driveways or onto streets. ...
3) RVs come in many different shapes and sizes, why was 22ft the line in the sand and not 32ft? ...
4) Where is the middle ground in all of this?"
He went on to say that he has spent the last couple days researching trailer ordinances in many of the surrounding Towns and Villages and believes there are several which could be potential candidates for us to adopt (or find hybrids thereof) that are no where near as restrictive as what we have now.
This is by far the most engagement I've seen on helping us find a compromise to this issue. I'm especially impressed with the offer to work hand in hand with the community to identify language that addresses everyone's concerns (rather than develop it in the back room for presentation to all in an announcement for public hearing). Things are looking up...