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Braun suggests referendum on Flossmoor truck parking issue

Flossmoor residents may get a chance to vote on whether pickup trucks can be legally parked on residential driveways.

At Monday’s village board meeting, Mayor Paul Braun proposed that the issue of pickup truck parking be placed on an advisory referendum that would go before voters in this November’s election. Board members must give the green light to the referendum proposal but agreed Monday to further discuss the truck parking issue at a future meeting.

“I would like community input on this as an aesthetic ordinance,” Braun said.

Flossmoor’s board chambers were filled to capacity Monday and many in the audience came to weigh in on both sides of the truck parking issue. Resident Luke Lambert presented the board with the results of an online petition calling for the village to reverse its ban on pickup trucks on residential driveways in the village. More than 300 persons signed the petition, Lambert said.

The pickup truck regulations are part of Flossmoor’s zoning ordinance and have been enforced, in one form or another, since 1980. According to the ordinance, pickup trucks must be stored in garages. Trucks left on the driveway are ticketed.

The original zoning ordinance prohibited pickup trucks from even being parked in garages but that was amended in 1989. Flossmoor became nationally known for its truck ordinance in the 1980s when a resident sued the village over the policy. That case went all the way to the United States Appellate Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of the village. The pickup truck ordinance has been in effect ever since.

During the citizen comment portion period prior to the regular meeting, Lambert told the board that the pickup truck ordinance is out of date and “out of touch with reality and today’s culture.”

He read comments that people submitted along with their signatures. Signers, he said, called the driveway ban “almost discriminating,” “a silly, outdated rule,” and “anything but welcoming,” a reference to Flossmoor’s new marketing tagline (“Welcoming. Beautiful. Connected.”).

“I pay way too much in taxes to not be able to park my $57,000 truck on my driveway,” one person wrote.

Vicki Stevenson, a Flossmoor resident and real estate agent, said the truck regulations are actually a detriment to attracting new residents to the village. Homes are on the market far longer in Flossmoor than in Homewood, which has no prohibitions on driveway pickup truck parking, she said.

On more than one occasion, Stevenson said, she has shown homes to young couples who are excited about moving to Flossmoor, and especially like the village’s diversity, schools and neighborhoods.

“Then I tell them about the ban,” she said, and the couples decide to look elsewhere.

Stevenson said she has looked at several upscale communities in the Chicago area that allow truck parking on driveways but have other restrictions on the size of the vehicles. Flossmoor’s board may wish to consider those types of restrictions, she said.

Three residents spoke in favor of continuing the driveway ban.

Margaret Hagerman said she formerly lived in a town in Northwest Indiana where “every one of my neighbors had a pickup truck.”

“We’d like to keep Flossmoor as nice as it is,” she said. “We moved here because it has standards. We like the higher standards.”

Following the citizen comments, Braun thanked the residents for coming out and asked the audience to give Lambert a round of applause. He then explained that Flossmoor’s truck regulations can be considered a “lifestyle-type ordinance.” He called the regulations on truck parking “a groundbreaking ordinance” since it was the first time that the court system upheld an Illinois village’s ability to zone based on aesthetic concerns.

“It’s not a ban,” he said. “It says that trucks need to be parked in the garage.”

Braun said he realizes that times have changed since 1989, when few people considered pickup trucks as their personal vehicles. He added that the village needs more information on whether residents are in favor of changing the truck regulations, which an advisory referendum would provide. He also directed village staff to see what restrictions on pickup trucks are in place in other communities.

Village board members briefly commented on Braun’s proposal and the truck issue.

Trustee Brian Driscoll, who backed changing the truck ordinance when he ran for the board last year, said he would support a referendum on the issue.

Perry Hoag said he has concerns that such a referendum would be divisive in the community but is willing to talk about it.

James Mitros voiced concerns about oversized trucks that might be too big for Flossmoor garages.

“I have been to other communities and seen trucks with tires that are four feet high and that have big pipes coming out of the top,” Mitros said. “If I were the neighbor of that truck, I would be p—d off.”   

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