Should someone be able to park a boat trailer – or any trailer, for that matter – on a public street on a regular basis? Some Seaside Park officials say they have gotten complaints about too many people permanently parking boat trailers and trailed RVs and utility carts, on the street. Other say an ordinance banning the parking of trailers is a step too far – and that Seaside Park has too many rules on the books as it is.
“There have been many complaints about these vehicles being parked on the streets for long periods of time,” said Councilman Matthew DeMichele. “There have been extension cords running across the street, and a lot of people parking improperly.”
Everyone seemed to be in agreement that electrical wires should not be crossing streets or sidewalks, but the mere act of parking a trailer on the street divided the room during a work session meeting of the borough council Thursday night.
The governing body debated whether parking trailers on the street – boat or otherwise – overnight should be prohibited or restricted to very short periods of time. One version of an ordinance would allow the parking of a trailer overnight as long as it was connected to a vehicle – meaning it is physically on the hitch of a vehicle with at least one chain connected between the two vehicles, and ready to be moved quickly. That, proponents said, would allow someone to ready their boat for a ride and take it out in the morning, but prohibit boat parking on streets entirely.
“It was envisioned as allowing people to work on their boats for the weekend, get them ready to go in the water, that kind of thing,” said DeMichele.
Seaside Park used to have such an ordinance, said Councilman Ray Amabile, recalling a member of his own family once receiving a ticket for parking their boat on the street decades ago. But at some point, the ordinance was repealed. Amabile, a veteran of a U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue unit, was one of the members of council in favor of prohibiting permanent (or semi-permanent) trailer parking on public streets.
“Where I came from in South Orange, you weren’t even allowed to park a car on the street at night, much less a boat,” he said.
Others disagreed – vocally.
“The old ordinance, people thought it was too restrictive,” said Police Chief James Boag, who did not offer a personal opinion on a new ordinance being put into place.
“I didn’t know I was buying into an HOA, because that’s where the town’s going,” said one member of the public. At one point, a “No Fun Allowed” sign was drawn on a legal pad and shown to the council in protest of too many activities being declared illegal.
Councilwoman Gina Condos responded to a letter from a resident complaining that they moved to an “elite” community and did not expect to see boat and RV trailers parked on streets.
“People don’t come here to just sit and look at other people’s properties,” said Condos. “If I wanted to move to an ‘elite’ town, I suppose I’d move to a gated community with all kinds of rules, not a family resort on a barrier island where people do have boats, jet-skis – and specifically come here for that.”
DiMichele, who initially brought up the discussion, said he did not feel particularly strongly about the details of an ordinance either way, but said that in a town where parking is at a major premium as homes get larger, he expects more complaints to come in. He also questioned why the previous ordinance – tough as it may have been – was enacted in the first place.
“Was the intention of this overnight attachment to the trailer with the thought that it’s going to be a day or two while you’re doing some maintenance on your boat, or landscaping?” he asked. “It was just common sense – you didn’t want to take up two parking spaces at once, and you knew your neighbors didn’t want to look at your boat.”
Suggestions from the public ranged from support for some variation of an overnight ban on trailer parking, to making space available in town for people to legally park boat trailers, such as empty lots owned by the borough. They emphasized, however, that the borough should not look at boat parking as a revenue generator, and any fee should be low enough where anyone could afford to park.
The council did not act on the matter Thursday night, and given the level of disagreement over the issue, eventually moved on to other business. But the debate continues to simmer, and an ordinance could potentially come up for a vote in the future.