After reading a recent article published by Wauwatosa Now, city alderman Bobby Pantuso is now referring to one local ordinance as 'nitpicky' and looks to make a change.
In the Ask Now column, which helps solve everyday questions posed by the community, one reader asked whether the city enforces the code prohibiting commercial vehicles parking overnight in residential driveways.
The answer by city officials was 'yes,' the ordinance is enforced, but the article struck a cord with Pantuso who said he went on to hold a number of conversations with his constituents and couldn't find one who agreed that the ordinance should continue to be upheld.
'It's an ordinance that goes back in the books to a time when Wauwatosa felt it was a little bit elitist,' he said, adding he will push to have conversations at city hall to change or eliminate it.
The ordinance, created in 1979, was instilled to help preserve and maintain the residential aesthetic of Wauwatosa neighborhoods, said city attorney Alan Kesner.
'The common council did a number of things to make sure that residential neighborhoods stayed residential and looked residential,' he said.
The current code outlines the following as constituting a possible commercial vehicle and how they may be treated:
· If the vehicle carries a commercial or truck registration
· If the vehicle has a commercial sign affixed, attached or painted on
· If the vehicle is ordinarily used for commercial purposes and if such use is discernible from the exterior of the vehicle
· If the gross weight of the vehicle exceeds 5,000 pounds
· No person, firm or corporation may park a commercial vehicle in any residential district
· The ordinance is not intended to prohibit the temporary parking of commercial vehicles while they are being used to perform a service or make deliveries at the location where parked
·The ordinance is not intended to prohibit the parking of vehicles within a garage within a residential district.
Former Wauwatosa Alderman Bernie Grimm, who began his 36-year tenure on the common council in 1972, said the ordinance was necessary in 1979 as there were many complaints from neighbors who didn't want to see a large advertisement on a commercial vehicle parked next door every day.
Grimm added he probably wouldn't want such a vehicle next door to his own residence and believes there are still plenty of people in Wauwatosa who would agree with him.
Code Enforcement Officer Joe Tillman has said it's not always easy to identify the violations, and the inspections are made only after the city receives a complaint. Violations carry a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and can run up to $400 or more for multiple violations.
Ten days are allowed for compliance and property owners who do not comply are billed on their next property tax statement, he said.
The inspections are done during the work day, so violations that happen at night can slip from the city's radar, said Kesner.
Changing the existing ordinance could prove to be a lengthy process because the ordinance falls under the city's zoning code. Zoning changes, a public hearing and commission approval would all be required.
'It will take a little time but it can get done,' Kesner said.
Pantuso said it's not clear when he hopes to bring proposed changes forward, but he noted it will hopefully happen 'sooner rather than later.'