Council Grapples With RVs, Commercial Vehicles in Municipal Parking

The Leonia Borough Council convened in a recent session tackling several pressing issues, notably the debate over whether to permit RVs, commercial vans, and other large vehicles in the municipal parking lot, a proposal influenced by rising home-based work trends and parking stress.

Many council members showed resistance to allowing larger vehicles in municipal lots. “I’m wondering what problem we are trying to solve here,” one councilman remarked, implying potential parking space issues for large vehicles. A prominent concern was the potential misuse of parking spots, especially with RVs. One member noted the risk of individuals sleeping in RVs overnight, saying, “I don’t think we want people sleeping in the municipal lot.”

A study by the administrator’s office revealed that Leonia’s current parking charges were considerably lower than neighboring areas. Fort Lee, for instance, levies significantly higher yearly charges on commercial vehicles. The Laws of Ordinance Committee had proposed increasing parking fees but hadn’t provided clarity on permitting these vehicles in the municipal parking lot.

Councilwoman Maureen Davis emphasized that owners of RVs and large vehicles had alternatives, such as commercial lots. “It’s not like people who have an RV won’t be able to park it if we don’t provide it in the borough. They can pay for it just like my friend does at a commercial lot,” she said.

There was a shared sentiment about consistent enforcement. A councilman highlighted the need for clarity in ordinances, saying, “This is more of us being responsible with our ordinances and seeing if we’re really enforcing them or not.” Given the already strained capacity in parking lots, Councilman Ziegler was against RVs and oversized vehicles, favoring only passenger cars or similar-sized vehicles.

The meeting also touched upon ordinance 2023-15, which suggested that personnel policies be adopted by resolution every two years for clarity and consistency. Ordinance 2023-16 aimed to amend fire prevention policies, refining the criteria for which residential units are subjected to the ordinance. Another noteworthy resolution, 2023-186, stemmed from an architectural miscalculation that would lead to a misalignment of metal panels on a borough building, costing the borough approximately $10,000 to rectify.

On enforcement matters, the meeting shed light on the police department’s role, which, while reactive to complaints, does not proactively patrol for zoning ordinance or property maintenance violations. There was a general consensus for the police to take on more responsibility, especially concerning the potential parking issue of commercial vehicles soon to be barred from EnVac.

The session broached the capital budget for 2023, where a total capital improvement budget of $811,781 was proposed. However, the discussion was postponed due to accessibility issues with a pertinent document.

Ending the session, the council entered a closed executive meeting to discuss affordable housing and human resources issues.

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