Requirement for gravel or better parking areas voted down 2-3; ‘If we want city rules, we need to be in the city’

A proposal to have vehicles on residential lots of one-acre or less in unincorporated Fayette County be required to park on an improved surface was voted down at the Oct. 25 meeting of the Fayette County Commission.

Above, attending the Oct. 25 meeting of the Fayette County Commission were, from left, commissioners Chuck Oddo and Steve Brown, Chairman Eric Maxwell and commissioners Randy Ognio and Charles Rousseau. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The motion requiring that parking on residential lots of one acre or less in the unincorporated areas must have improved surfaces such as cement, asphalt, gravel or pavers failed on a 2-3 vote.

Commissioners Charles Rousseau and Steve Brown supported the motion, while commissioners Randy Ognio and Chuck Oddo and Chairman Eric Maxwell were opposed.

Public speakers included one person in favor of the motion and one against.

Prior to the vote, Ognio said he was concerned about the county expanding the requirement to even larger tracts in the future if the vote were successful.

“I’m concerned about where we draw the line when the county starts functioning like an HOA,” Ognio said.

Fayette is a county, not a city, said Oddo, questioning the appropriateness of the proposal.

“If we want city rules, we need to be in the city,” said Oddo.

Brown questioned how far a neighborhood, and eventually portions of the county, could go if neighborhood properties are not maintained, whether with parking issues or the upkeep of the property itself.

With blight, values begin to decrease, Brown said.

“Passive enforcement is all that’s necessary,” said Brown. “We’re having some dire problems in some of our one-acre subdivisions. This will lead to more owners leaving and turning to renters. Blight drives out civic-minded and high-income families.”

Maxwell in his comments referenced times past when a similar ordinance was in place, adding that commissioners did away with the requirement 10-15 years ago.

“I don’t see a reason to do it again,” he said, adding that many homes he has seen do not have improved surfaces for parking, and noting both the cost of improving parking surfaces and the cost of enforcement.

Rounding out the discussion, Rousseau, who originally proposed revisiting the ordinance, thanked commissioners for their comments.

“I wanted to revisit (the ordinance) as we see the county transitioning,” said Rousseau. “If you don’t pay attention it will creep up on you.”

The idea for the ordinance came from Rousseau in a discussion during the summer.

“Commissioner Rousseau stated that the core purpose for this was to assist the communities who did not have advocates in the form of an HOA to maintain high community standards,” according the commission’s July 26 meeting minutes.

From the code enforcement perspective, adopting the ordinance was expected to require a cost of more than $96,000 to add a county marshal, including salary and benefits and a vehicle and equipment. The addition of four marshals would raise the cost to $386,000.