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News & Updates About The Park and Possible Changes

Here is where I will list the latest headlines and links to articles regarding the City’s Planning and Zoning re-write of the RV parking ordinance as they develop. Stop by for the latest. If this is your first visit read the background article by clicking HERE!

A Decision On This Matter IS Likely At The October 11th P&Z Commission Meeting – It looks very much like October will finally give us a recommendation from Planning & Zoning to the City Council regarding the RV storage issue!

The matter was tabled and continued to the October meeting for Staff to clarify some wording, but Staff is on record supporting Option 1 – Restricting the storage of RV’s and large vehicles.

Unfortunately, those of us that want to see the existing code strengthened and enforced were under-represented at the meeting where I was the only one to speak out for Option 1. See more details by clicking HERE.

The Text Amendment was on the Planning & Zoning commission Agenda – on September 13, 2022! With the City only publishing the agenda about 24 hours in advance, it was difficult to muster much support at the meeting, but I spoke in favor of Option 1 and 4 people spoke in favor of Option 3. Due to questions regarding some wording of Option 3, the topic was tabled and continued to the next meeting on October 11th.

More details are HERE.

P&Z Meeting to Introduce Proposed Code Amendments – On July 12th the Planning And Zoning Commission meets in a study session to introduce three (3) variations of the existing City Code that governs the storage of “equipment” in side and rear yards of residential properties within the City.

Since the topic has been designated a “study session” no action can or will be taken on these three (3) proposals, but rather, open the subject to the formal process of future public hearings, debate, and the construction of the final form of an ordinance by the P&Z Commission to be brought to the City Council for ratification.

If you want to see the three proposals and background along with my commentary and analysis click HERE.

P&Z NEWS – The Planning and Zoning Commission met yesterday, June 14th, 2022, but did not put the Parking Code on the agenda. Now, they expect to hear the case at their July 12th meeting. For the details about why, as I know them, click HERE!

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Big Changes May Be Coming to Our Litchfield Park Neighborhood

Litchfield Park Planning & Zoning Commission Needs Your Input!

Hello neighbors! My name is Tommy, and I have lived in beautiful Litchfield Park for 30 years. In all that time we have enjoyed the unique character and beauty of The Park with its open spaces and unobstructed sight lines, protected by carefully crafted Zoning Restrictions dutifully enforced.

That may be about to change!

At the request of some residents, and following procedure, our City Council has tasked the Planning & Zoning Commission to study the wording of the portion of the City Code that deals with the storage of RV’s, Trailers, motor homes, and other large vehicles in rear and side yards of residential lots within The Park.

Continue reading “Big Changes May Be Coming to Our Litchfield Park Neighborhood”
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Disclaimer

Judging from the title of this blog, it is clear that information presented here is considered to be an opinion. The information contained here is provided “as-is” and without warranty or claim of suitability of any kind.

Here’s What Happened at September’s P&Z Meeting

The Commission discussed the matter and numerous questions were asked and discussed. Public comment was solicited, and I used my turn to offer the following perspective;

Members of the Commission, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you this evening.

I wish to emphatically oppose any weakening of the current Zoning Code, Section 31.04 as it applies to the Storage of RV’s, Trailers, Busses, Motor Homes, and other large vehicles and trailers in side and rear yards of residential properties “within the wall” of “old” Litchfield Park.

Conversely, I wish to support strengthening the Code to clearly state that such long-term storage of said vehicles be even more strictly regulated, in agreement with the Staff Recommendation.

Our community has, since its incorporation, been well served by the existing Code, the wording of which was recently validated by the Board of Adjustment at its April 7th meeting.

Litchfield Park, known for its open spaces and generous set-back requirements, has benefited in both its property values and its unique character and reputation, by maintaining a strict limit on the number and types of storage permitted on residential properties.

In a recent BOA meeting on June 2nd, in response to an applicant’s request to encroach only 5 feet into the required side set-back, Board Chairperson, Susan Charnetsky stated;

“I am very protective of setbacks, because setbacks are open spaces between homes. It really makes what the community IS, by having everything look spacious and open and landscaped. Generally, we are VERY PROTECTIVE of setbacks.”

Yet, if the Commission moves to weaken the Code, large vehicles allowed to be stored in side yards would virtually eliminate these sacred setbacks. Stored next to a structure, a typical 8-foot-wide trailer, parked just 2 feet from the adjacent residence would eliminate a full two-thirds or 10 feet of the required 15-foot building setback and practically eliminate the community’s open and spacious look that I, and apparently the Board of Adjustment, hold very dear.

Furthermore, why do all of the “other” neighborhoods in Litchfield Park, outside the wall, specifically prohibit RV storage through HOA enforced CC&R’s? is it because of their unsightly appearance and potential for destroying carefully created sight lines? We deserve the same protection.

I further believe that Zoning would never allow a resident to construct a 40 foot long, 8 foot wide, 12 foot tall “tin” storage shed in the typical Litchfield Park side yard. Yet, a “toy hauler” trailer of JUST such size, which is nothing more than a “tin shed on wheels”, could be permanently stored in the same side yard if the City moves to weaken the Code.

Additionally, even Maricopa County Zoning Code, which is generally more permissive than our own, in Section 1114.1.2., referring to “travel trailer, aircraft, boat, camping trailer, truck camper or motor home” storage in side or rear yards, requires that “Such storage shall maintain a five (5) foot clear path around any structures.” This is to facilitate access for emergency services personnel in case of fire or the need to access or evacuate the structure. Allowing a 10-Ton Motor Home to be stored within inches of a residence is dangerous to both the occupants and to emergency first-responders. Any Code revisions must consider the requirements of our own police and fire services and public safety in this regard.

It is my experience that these stored vehicles generally see very little use throughout the year and, as such, just sit deteriorating in the sun, for most of the time. Will P&Z consider requiring stored vehicles to maintain current registration to prevent unserviceable vehicles from being just warehoused on a property? Once they are no longer roadworthy, how will the owner be prevented from using them to store junk inside, turning them into the previously mentioned “tin shed on wheels?” The Code needs to address these possibilities if it is going to allow side and rear yard large-vehicle storage.

Lastly, since side and rear yards are rarely paved, motor homes stored there rest predominantly on grass or gravel. Generally, motor vehicles not parked on paved surfaces risk ground pollution from leaking oil and other harmful fluids, each potentially creating a miniature Crane plume within our residential lots. This, too, needs to be addressed in Code if we allow future long-term storage.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Subsequently, 4 additional residents rose to speak in favor of Option 3, which would allow virtually unrestricted storage of RV’s on properties “within the wall” of Old Litchfield Park.

At the end of the debate as the commissioners seemed to be preparing for a vote, a question arose as to the meaning of “partially screened” in Option 3. I had always understood it to mean screened to the height of a six-foot tall adjacent property wall or vegetation of equivalent height. Since there was no agreement as to the definition, the commission called for Staff to clarify this, and tabled the vote until the October 11th meeting.

Those of us who do not want to see Litchfield Park deteriorate into a trailer and motor home strewn subdivision, mirroring the loosely regulated County islands and towns around us MUST represent their views at the October meeting. Residents in favor of liberalizing the Code have formed a strong and organized Special Interest Group who were forewarned by a letter distributed to them as far back as April of this year.

This served to inform and advise approximately 20+ RV owners that the topic of RV storage was now under discussion at the City and undoubtedly spurred them into action, as they, representing a small Special Interest Group and motivated by financial and personal gain, have a strong incentive to be pro-active on this issue and lobby to have the Code liberalized.

Not notified directly in any way were the other 90% of Litchfield Park families, who unaware that their long-held protections against having their neighbors suddenly obscure their sight lines and violate City setbacks with large stored vehicles were under possible revision.

Please Contact he Planning & Zoning Commission through Daniel Loftus (dloftus@litchfield-park.org) and express your desire in writing to see that Litchfield Park maintain its current strict Zoning Code and in support of re-write proposal #1. and PLEASE attend the October meeting to voice your support in front of the Commission in person!

P&Z Debated the RV Parking Code Re-write and Tabled It Until October.

The city finally placed the code re-write debate and possible recommendation to Council on the agenda for the Planning & Zoning Commission on September 13th, 2022, at Litchfield Public Library at 7:00pm.

Due to some questions regarding the meaning of the word “partially” in Option 3, the Commission voted to continue the discussion at their next meeting to allow staff to more clearly define that option. It has always been my understanding that “partially screened” meant that the six-foot height of an adjacent screening wall or an equal height of dense vegetation would be sufficient to comply with the revised Code.

None -the-less, it was encouraging to see that in the announcement on the agenda, that the City Staff recommended to chose “Option 1”. Here is the text of the agenda item;

ZONING CODE SECTION 31.04 “SCREENING OF NON-PRINCIPAL USES”
TEXT AMENDMENT

Staff Recommendation:
Staff recommendation at this time is to support option 1, strengthening the code language to enhance the originally intended protections from parking unscreened RVs and other equipment on residential properties. This draft language is as follows:

“Such items shall be completely screened from view of BY adjacent and nearby properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence not to exceed six feet in height AND/or dense landscaping, TO ENSURE THE EQUIPMENT IS COMPLETELY SCREENED FROM VIEW. DENSE LANDSCAPING IS NOT SUBJECT TO HEIGHT LIMITATIONS. EQUIPMENT that IS more than six feet in height shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height from any side or rear property line FROM NATURAL GRADE.”

This is good news for us, as it follows the Code interpretation of the earlier Board of Adjustment ruling on April 7th, and retains the strict interpretation that has served the City well since our incorporation.

We can only hope that the vociferous Special Interest Group that want’s to liberalize the Zoning Code for their own financial gain is defeated in its attempt to have the Commission rule in their favor and chose option 3 – allowing unrestricted RV, trailer and large vehicle storage in rear and side yards within The Park!

Proposed Text Amendments to City Code, Introduced July 12, 2022 to P&Z.

On the agenda for the July 2022 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission are three (3) variations on the existing City code Section 31.04 that governs the storage of equipment (including travel trailers, RV’s, Boats, trucks, buses, etc. in side and rear yards of residential properties within the City.

The Planning & Zoning Commission agenda packet for this meeting which can be found HERE under “Past Meetings” of the P&Z Commission outlines the history of this proposal and the details of the three directions that the City wants P&Z to consider with input from the public as well as their internal debate. The section in question begins on Packet Page 12.

Below, I will reproduce some of the content and add my comments and concerns.

Continue reading “Proposed Text Amendments to City Code, Introduced July 12, 2022 to P&Z.”

Action on Proposed Parking Changes Postponed Another Month

The Litchfield Park Planning and Zoning Commission was expected to discuss the change in the RV Parking ordinance at yesterday’s meeting, but the item was not added to the agenda.

Apparently, the issue has now grown to include ALL the parking Codes within the City and City management decided to study it in more detail before making an recommendation to P&Z.

It is expected that they will have a recommendation for the Commission by next month’s scheduled meeting on July 12th.

If you have an interest in seeing that our community does not become a storage lot for all manner of trucks, buses, motor homes, storage trailers and campers, please keep following this situation closely and read my our lead story for information on who to contact. Click HERE.

Plan to attend the next meeting via Zoom or in person to see where they are headed with this. The meetings and agendas are posted 24-48 hours ahead of the meetings at http://litchfieldparkaz.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx