By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Too many vehicles? Small driveway? No on-street parking? Doesn’t matter. You can’t keep cars and trucks in the yard.
At least not in Tupelo. And the city’s code-enforcement team plans to crack down on this illegal practice with fines and jail time waiting for those who resist.
According to Section 9-6-6 of the city’s development code, no one can park vehicles in the front yard of a residential property.
Doing so can result in up to $1,000 in fines six months in jail.
First-time offenders will get warnings, but city officials aren’t afraid to fully prosecute those who repeatedly violate the ordinance.
Case in point: A resident who had been habitually warned and then cited for the practice recently spent a day in jail and was fined $1,000 after failing to show up for his court appearance. The judge suspended $750 of the fine pending future compliance.
“If he parks on the yard again and gets a ticket, he’ll have to pay $750 plus a new fine and possibly jail time,” said Code Enforcement Officer Debra Byrd, who worked that case. “It’s very nice now that the court is paying attention to code enforcement and is taking it as seriously as we do.”
Byrd said many people don’t intentionally break the law. They simply have more vehicles than their driveways can accommodate.
A solution, however, exists: The city code allows for the addition of extra parking next to existing driveways as long as it has asphalt, gravel or concrete.
Total parking can’t exceed 35 percent of the front yard, though.
But why is lawn parking banned to begin with? Is it really a big deal?
Byrd said yes.
“If you chronically park in your yard, it wears out the grass and leads to deep ruts that, when it rains, cause drainage problems,” she said. “And that violates other codes, like our landscaping codes, and it devalues the property and the other properties around it. Plus, it’s just ugly.”
THIS IS PART 2 in a series of stories about common Tupelo code violations heavily targeted this summer by the city. The first story was about house numbers. Other stories will be:
May 14: Banners and signs
May 21: Grass mowing
May 28: Outdoor storage
June 4: Junk vehicles
June 11: Fences
June 18: Trash containers
June 25: Landscape maintenance
July 2: Commercial codes