New rules may be on the way for parking, tree care in Bowie -- Gazette.Net


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Bowie residents may soon have new rules for carbon monoxide detectors, residential parking and tree maintenance.

One ordinance would require carbon monoxide detectors be installed in any rental property in the city, another would apply stiffer penalties for homeowners who fail to maintain trees on their property. A pair of ordinances would limit how closely a vehicle could park to a driveway without the homeowner’s permission and require trailers, campers and watercraft to be properly tagged and parked in a driveway, not on the street.

The City Council gave the ordinances initial approval Nov. 19, and will schedule public meetings before a final vote. None of the measures would take effect until after the new year, if not later, said Steve Roberts, the city’s animal control and code compliance supervisor, who had a hand in drafting the items.

Each of the measures were the result of longstanding issues that need addressing, Roberts said.

The carbon monoxide detector measure is expected to impact roughly 1,200 multifamily living spaces in the city, as well as any homes being rented, Roberts said. While the city hasn’t had issues of carbon monoxide poisoning like Oxon Hill, which saw a family of five killed in January, the city’s move is in step with a Prince George’s County effort requiring all homes sold in the area to have carbon monoxide detectors, Roberts said.

The parking measures were undertaken to tackle mishandling of trailers, campers and watercraft in residential areas, Roberts said. Parking trailers loaded with boats or other items along roadways, particularly in the older parts of Bowie, can impede the flow of traffic and affect first-responders’ ability to move through the city’s roadways, Roberts said.

“I would support anything that stops the narrowing of city streets,” said John Nesky, chief of the Bowie Police Department. “The more roadway we have to work with, the better.”

Those who park boats, catamarans or other watercraft on city roadways under the change could face a $50 parking ticket, Roberts said.

The measure’s prohibition against keeping nonworking watercraft and trailers on a private property was needed as broken down watercraft or trailers on private homes hurt a neighborhood’s image, Roberts said.

“They store these vehicles, they don't keep them operative and they become junk and trashy,” he said.”The appearance of the neighborhood goes down.”

The measure also includes a change to all types of parking in the city by banning motorists from parking within three feet of a home’s driveway without the homeowner’s permission. The change would also allow citations of up to $50 — an increase from $35 — to be issued to the owner of vehicles parked in one spot for three days without moving, according to the draft legislation.

“I think three days is awfully short,” said Gerald Seidel, a board member for the Bowie station homeowner association and retired aeronautical engineer with NASA. “Some people go away for a week.”

The city is pursuing a code change that would allow city staff to deal with trees that might be on a resident’s property, but has branches that pose a risk to the public. The measure would allow the city to give a $100 fine or municipal infraction to property owners who fail to trim limbs in danger of falling across roadways and also allow the city to go onto a resident’s property, trim the tree and bill the homeowner, Roberts said.

“The main reason we're doing this is public safety,” he said. “Whether or not that tree is 100 years old, we care about the public safety. I don't think [a resident] wants to get sued for failing to trim that tree.”

The measure met with the approval of Russ Ideo, president of the Citizens Association of South Bowie, who said unmanaged plants can be a hazard to walkers.

“If you plant that, you should take care of it,” he said.

amccombs@gazette.net