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Paved Parkway - Bad Precedent?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Paved Parkway - Bad Precedent?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
August 5, 2007

The Woodstock City Council has started down a slippery slope by approving a request from a homeowner to pave the parking area in front of his house that is in the City’s right-of-way. Often referred to as “parkway” this is the section of ground between the street and a sidewalk. The grass thereon is maintained by the homeowner and creates a buffer between the sidewalk and street.

As we all know, and as some are learning after visits from the City’s Code Enforcement Officer, it is illegal to park a vehicle in the parkway. Although it appears to be the homeowner’s private property, it is – sort of. It is subject to the City’s right-of-way, or easement, on the private land of the homeowner. This is why he must cut the grass there but cannot park a vehicle there.

This changed recently for the property at 421 Stewart Street, when the City Council on May 1, 2007, approved an amendment to the City Code at Title 5, Chapter 3, Section 13.E.3.(5)(A), (E) and (G).

The property owner at 421 Stewart Street has paved (with asphalt) the parkway in front of his house, so that he can park two light trucks there. When I drove by this morning, the two trucks were there. No vehicle was parked in the driveway, and the garage door was closed, so I could not see whether there was a vehicle in the garage. Certainly, at least one of the trucks could be parked in the regular driveway, and maybe the other could be parked at the person’s business.

This is a dangerous precedent in Woodstock. Will every property owner who wants almost-street parking overnight now approach the City Council and say, “Well, you let him do it on Stewart Street”?

The new ordinance allows the owner, until June 1, 2009, to park two light trucks there overnight and not to be subject to the 30-minute parking restriction between 2:00-6:00AM. So, what will happen on June 1, 2009? You can bet that the property owner will be back at the City Council early in 2009 to request an extension or a permanent order.

What will happen if the City Council refuses? Nothing is the special ordinance for this property owner requires him to tear up the asphalt and put in grass again. How did they slip up on this one? That would have been an easy condition to impose, and now it’s too late. The neighbors are stuck with the patch of asphalt where there used to be grass.

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