A number of Kohler residents took advantage of the public hearing held by the Kohler Plan Commission on February 10 to express their opinions about the proposed changes to the ordinance regarding recreational vehicle storage.
Several speakers took issue with the part of the ordinance that prohibits overnight parking of any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 8,000 pounds. Village President Tom Schnettler and Police Chief Shawn Splivalo clarified that the intent of that section was to prohibit large commercial vehicles from parking for more than three days, not personal pickup trucks. One resident took issue with public officials having to clarify the wording of an ordinance. Schnettler and Splivalo both said the wording would be worked on to be more definitive. Schnettler took issue with this same resident suggesting the ordinance was probably already a “done deal” before the public hearing. Schnettler said these ordinances are often passed without a public hearing, but the Commission felt they should allow residents to have their say before making a decision. He said both he and other Plan Commission members also have boats and trailers, and they have been hashing over this ordinance for six months.
One of the issues the Plan Commission looked at when discussing the ordinance, was that houses in the older parts of the Village aren’t very conducive to storing large vehicles. Besides the fact that many of the lots are small and close together, many houses have shared driveways, where large parked vehicles impose on neighbors. Another issue noticed by Kohler police, was that some RV’s parked on streets appeared to be serving as housing. One resident said the aesthetics of the Village would be affected anyway, if people in older parts of the village were to start building two- or three-car garages to house their recreation vehicles. He said that would also be a financial burden for many living in the older neighborhoods, and the ordinance favors those who can afford to build three-car garages in the new subdivision.
Another common theme among residents, was the hardship and inconvenience of having to prepare RVs and boats for storage between use, such as draining holding tanks, removing batteries, removing food from the refrigerator, or having little time to clean boats within the 72-hour storage limit. Boat owners also said having to store their boats takes away from spontaneous outings if the weather happens to be nice on any given day.
Several residents said the ordinance was government overreach on private property ownership, and punitive toward taxpayers. Especially in a state where recreational activities are promoted and encouraged. One took issue with a comment she overheard somewhere, saying if someone can afford an RV or boat, they can afford to store them.
One resident said the Village should provide storage if they are going to pass a restrictive ordinance. The Kohler Villager suggested this to the Commission in the past, but Schnettler said that would not be possible due to insurance and liability issues.
A couple of residents suggested the ordinance be changed to only apply to the winter months.
One resident received an applause and cheers after suggesting that people might skirt the ordinance by removing their recreation vehicles for a day, then bring it back for 72 hours, and keep repeating that strategy throughout the month. However, the ordinance states that the 72-hour period of allowed storage is within one calendar month, so that strategy would not work.
Only one resident turned out to speak in favor of the ordinance, citing the fact that Kohler is a planned community. She said in the past, boats were never parked on streets or driveways. She expressed concerns that these vehicles would also obstruct views when pulling out of driveways, or create obstacles for fire trucks.
Speakers were all well prepared and generally respectful. There was no shouting or contentiousness.
Schnettler said they would not be making a decision that night, and it’s possible it could be months before a decision is made, as they further discuss the ordinance. He said there would probably be another public hearing before a final decision is made.