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Willmar’s Council reviews ordinance prohibiting parking in front yards

A snow-covered vehicle is parked in the yard next to a home Tuesday in a Willmar neighborhood. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council received a refresher on city ordinance that prohibits parking in residential front yards after concerns about such parking were raised by two council members.

Councilman Ron Christianson told the other council members Monday night that he had visited with an individual concerned about the issue.

“Winter comes and we’re seeing cars parked in yards,’’ Christianson said.

Also, he referred to an inquiry by Councilman Rick Fagerlie, chairman of the Community Development Committee, about such parking. Fagerlie was absent Monday, but his inquiry was noted in the minutes of the committee’s meeting conducted last week.

Christianson asked Bruce Peterson, planning and development director, if the city has an ordinance that addresses the concerns.

“Some people would just rather park right next to their front steps,” Peterson said. “Our ordinance does specifically prohibit parking within the front yard except in the driveway or designated official parking area.

“They cannot park in the front yard in front of the width of the house itself.’’

Peterson said the subject has been an ongoing issue and the city probably writes 30 to 40 violations annually.

He said the city rigorously enforces the ordinance. Most of the problems are at rental properties.

He said the city cites property owners and sends notices to property owners and to the tenants. But when it comes time to cite, the notice goes to the property owner as the responsible party, said Peterson.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor, he said.

A notice posted on the city’s website says parking in the front yard, immediately in front of the home and directly in front of the front door, is not permitted by zoning ordinance.

Parking of licensed, operable vehicles is permissible in the garage, driveway, or rear yard a minimum of 5 feet from all property lines.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150