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Residents mixed over Lee truck ordinance
May 15, 2019

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Residential property owners who have complained about commercial truck parking in neighborhoods scored a victory last Tuesday but those who make a living with those trucks aren't happy.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a commercial truck parking ordinance that prohibits certain commercial trucks from being parked in lots or rights-of-way.

The measure came in the wake of complaints that residential neighborhoods were becoming blighted by the parking of semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and dump trucks.

"We want to be responsive to complaints that come to us, and we receive lots of complaints about trucks being parked in residential areas," Commissioner Brian Hamman said. "This is geared toward repeat offenders to give us enforcement tools to deal with these complaints."

The ordinance gives the Lee County Sheriff's Office and code enforcement the right to issue citations to repeat violators and, if necessary, tow the vehicle. Violators may be held contempt if they don't pay the fine or set a court date.

Residents filled the County Commission Chambers to make their feelings known.

Gary Humphrey of Buckingham said that there are truckers who are away for months at a time and they would have to pay to park their rig somewhere when they returned to their families.

"I understand people who don't want vehicles parked next to them, but to be able to park on their property off the road for a long weekend, I don't think it's a big deal," Humphrey said.

Others had different concerns.

"We think it's good and there are a lot of places in Lee County that have issues with how vehicles are parked and we applaud the commission for that," said Danny Ballard of the North Fort Myers Civic Association. "We don't want to people to start fencing off land and start parking vehicles there. I just hope this ordinance doesn't create more issues."

Commissioners were particularly sympathetic to those who live in agricultural areas, and created an exception in the ordinance that would not apply to those who live in that zoned land.

In answer to concerns expressed by those who make a living with their truck, Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass said they could amend the ordinance if they see somebody got left out or if it affects someone negatively.

"The idea is to not ruin anyone's business or take property rights away," Pendergrass said. "We'll listen to the community and if we need to tweak something, we can address it later."

However, for those who live even in rural areas, the right to not have to look at someone else's rig next door got satisfaction.

"Parking your vehicle in a residential area is not a suitable use for your land. Many are being parked in vacant lots that may not be owned by the person who parked there," Hamman said.

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