By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Where you can and cannot park recreational vehicles within the city limits of Havre is still up for debate.
The Ordinance Committee of the Havre City Council met Monday night at City Hall to discuss a proposed ordinance that would allow RVs to be parked on city streets between May 1 and Sept. 31.
The meeting came after Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel asked the committee to consider changing the current ordinance, which allows "auto trailers" - defined as any vehicles designed for living or sleeping and capable of moving from place to place - to be stored on the owner's property, but prohibits street parking except for tourists, who can park on the street for up to 48 hours.
Barthel said the Police Department doesn't have enough officers to enforce the existing ordinance. He was not in attendance at Monday night's meeting.
At the request of the Havre City Council, City Attorney Jim Kaze recently drafted a new ordinance stating that "trailers" - including camper trailers, flatbed trailers, travel trailers, car haulers, motor homes, and pickup campers - can be parked on city streets for a five-month period beginning May 1 and ending Sept. 31. It further stated that "any trailer parked in violation may be removed, at the owner's expense."
Havre resident Charles Grant told the committee that neither the existing ordinance nor the proposed ordinance touch on the issue of trailer or RV size. Grant said he believes ticketing or removing a smaller trailer or motor home for not complying with the parking rules is "not reasonable and not necessary in most cases."
But several other residents disagreed, claiming on-street parking for trailers creates a safety concern for drivers. Kathie Newell wrote a letter to the Ordinance Committee stating, "An ordinance allowing RVs to park on city streets is not well suited to the safety of motorists and pedestrians of the city of Havre."
City Council member Pam Hillery, who is a member of the Ordinance Committee, said she has talked with several concerned residents who "have a problem with the Police Department deciding to not enforce certain ordinances."
Hillery said she supports the existing ordinance and would like to see the Police Department enforce it.
Ordinance Committee member Rick Pierson said whether the committee chooses to adopt a new ordinance or rewrite the existing one, it has one goal in mind.
"We're looking for an ordinance to enforce that will suit the entire community," he said. "If we are going to look at enforcing the current ordinance, then we need to have the correct wording and definitions to do that."
The Ordinance Committee voted unanimously Monday night to table discussions on the matter until Barthel and Kaze could be present for comment. The committee tentatively set a follow-up meeting on the proposed ordinance for June 28 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.