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The Marco Island Planning Board approved changes to the city's rules for parking and storing trailers and recreational vehicles at its meeting Friday.

The proposed amendment to the Land Development Code (LDC), which the board approved 6-1, clarifies the definition of trailers and RVs and says where and for how long they can be parked or stored.

"(It's) an effort to preserve the small town character of Marco Island," the Community Affairs report submitted to the Planning Board reads. 

Under the proposed change, it will be unlawful to park trailers in residential zones except when the trailer is parked in an enclosed structure so it can't be seen from next door properties, public properties or waterways.

Trailers will be allowed to be in plain view for 24 consecutive hours for the purpose of loading, unloading and cleaning. Similar rules already exist in the LDC for RVs.

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"What we are trying to accomplish is that utility trailers are being parked on residential zones right now and it hasn't been addressed," said Daniel Smith, director of Community Affairs. "That's what this ordinance is for."

According to the proposed amendment, a trailer is "any wheeled conveyance without motive power designed to be coupled to or drawn by a vehicle." Examples of trailers include cargo, landscaping, travel and boat trailers.

Parking of commercial vehicles, commercial equipment or trailers on residential zoned lots will be prohibited unless associated with a valid, current building permit.

The definition of RVs will not change but will now include a list of features these types of vehicles have, like refrigerators, beds, supplemental air conditioners, cooking devices and a sanitary system.

The LDC defines RVs as "vehicles used as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use; or used in the pursuit of other recreational activities." Examples include travel and camping RVs, motor homes, private motor coaches and conversion vans.

"Right now we don't want people living under whatever vehicle we consider living space," Smith said. "(The amendment) gives us that hammer in case somebody is, (but) we are not going to go after the person who has a conversion van who is driving it as their normal vehicle."

Upon receipt of a permit from Code Enforcement, Marco Islanders will be allowed to park their RVs in plain view for no more than seven consecutive days for the purpose of loading, unloading, minor repairs and cleaning.

According to the proposed amendment, "prior to the expiration of the seven consecutive day permit, a second seven consecutive day permit may be issued upon a finding by the code enforcement unit division that the permittee has complied with permit conditions."

"We have to have something in the code that would allow us to go after people who are living in these vans," Smith said.

Planning Board member Joe Rola dissented. City Council will vote on the proposed changes at a future meeting.

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