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November referendum vote planned on Flossmoor’s pickup truck restrictions

One of Flossmoor’s newest residents Monday brought an old question to officials at the village board meeting.

Why does Flossmoor prohibit parking personal use pickup trucks in residential areas?

“What was the problem?” Mark Penacho asked board members.

Penacho said he moved to Flossmoor “two days ago” and only discovered on Monday that the village prohibits personal truck parking – a regulation that appears to be unique in the United States. Penacho said that when he decided to move to Flossmoor he was unaware that he would be committing an illegal act by parking his truck on his driveway.

“I’ve driven a truck for personal use since 1990,” he said, adding that he’s never used the vehicles for work.

“I like going to the store and bringing home 30 bags of mulch,” he said.

Mayor Paul Braun told Penacho that Flossmoor has always been a bedroom community. Braun has previously called the truck parking restriction a lifestyle ordinance approved to enhance the community’s aesthetics.

However, he also said Monday that “times have changed.”

Since the parking prohibition was first approved in the 1980s, the nature of driving in the United States has changed drastically. Pickup trucks now make up a large percentage of the vehicles that Americans drive, whether it is for work or personal use.

Braun and other board members agreed to place a referendum question before Flossmoor voters this fall on whether the truck parking prohibition, which is part of the village’s zoning ordinance, should remain in place. Flossmoor’s zoning law specifies that personal pickup trucks “may only be parked in an enclosed garage.”

The advisory referendum will be on the November election ballot.

The outcome of the referendum vote will not necessarily dictate any future action that the board will take, Braun said. But the results will be used as an indication of how the Flossmoor community sees the parking restriction and whether it is considered necessary. Any proposed change to the ordinance will likely start with the village’s plan commission, which makes recommendations to the board on zoning matters.

Other board members agreed that a referendum was a good idea.

Trustee Diane Williams said she has talked to numerous residents about the parking issue in recent weeks and that she received feedback “from both sides.”

Trustee Perry Hoag said he’s heard from dozens of people in the last week and that those on both the pro and con sides of the issue are “passionate” about the restriction.

Resident Luke Lambert, who initiated an online petition calling for a reversal of the parking prohibition, asked why board members couldn’t simply make a decision on changing the ordinance.

“I think they vote you in to make decisions,” Lambert said.

At the April 2 board meeting, Lambert presented the results of his petition. He said that more than 300 persons signed the petition calling for an end to the parking restriction.

Trustee Philip Minga told Lambert that the board needs more reliable input from citizens than an online petition. There is “no validation” that anyone signing the petition lives in the community, he said. A referendum would give a more accurate assessment of what Flossmoor residents think of the parking prohibition.

Following the April 2 meeting, village staff was directed to look at pickup truck regulations in other Chicago-area communities. Scott Bugner, Flossmoor’s inspectional services administrator, prepared a study for Monday’s meeting.

Bugner looked at truck regulations in 42 suburban communities, focusing on ordinances in 12 towns. All allow pickup trucks but it is not uncommon to have restrictions on the size of the vehicles. For instance, Barrington specifies that passenger vehicles – including pickup trucks – are not to exceed 20 feet in length or eight feet in height.

Other towns restrict personal trucks to those bearing “B” license plates, which Illinois issues to pickups weighing less than 8,000 pounds. Restrictions that prohibit commercial trucks – those with business lettering or racks for ladders – from residential areas are also common. Braun said Monday that Flossmoor will not allow commercial vehicles to park in neighborhoods regardless of what happens with personal use trucks.

Several residents spoke on both sides of the issue.

Denise King said her family moved to Flossmoor not knowing about the truck restrictions and found out when tickets started appearing on her husband’s vehicle, which he uses for work. Now, she must drive him to his job in the morning since he needs to keep his truck at the workplace, which is a hardship for her family. She said she and her husband would not have moved to Flossmoor if they knew in advance about the truck regulation.

Kirkland Burke said he wants to keep the current zoning ordinance.

People opposed to the parking regulation are acting “like it’s some crime for Flossmoor to be Flossmoor,” Burke said, calling the village an elite community.

“I used to live in Beverly Hills (California),” Burke said. “They had lots of regulations. If you didn’t like them, they told you to move to L.A.”

David Dreyfuss, who described himself as a 60-year resident of Flossmoor “off and on,” said he has had a pickup truck for much of his adult life. He called on the board to engage in “forward thinking” and said he doesn’t think the issue needs to go to a referendum.

Dreyfuss questioned why he needs to park his pickup in the garage when a “monster Hummer,” which he finds unsightly, can be parked on a nearby driveway.

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