By Timothy Chipp
Town of Niagara officials are taking a look at how to curb large vehicular obstructions throughout the town.
Boats, RVs and other vehicles, town officials said, are sometimes parked in areas blocking the views of neighbors as they try to exit their driveways.
It’s an issue causing dangerous situations for both those neighbors and drivers already on these roads, as vehicles can seemingly appear out of nowhere.
“The Building Department can’t even handle all the calls that are coming in about this,” Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso said.
And, so, Virtuoso went digging for answers. And help.
She contacted a number of other Niagara County town clerks for information on how their towns handle the obstructed views. She didn’t hear back from all of them, but she did receive feedback from three.
And the results? According to Town Attorney Michael Risman, those three samples weren’t exactly helpful.
“I’ll need to do more research,” Risman said following the Town Board’s meeting July 18. “Those laws are all over the place.”
Risman said the towns each handle their laws differently, designed to address their individual needs and concerns. What works in a town like Wilson may not address the needs in Niagara, or vice versa.
And the Town of Niagara already has a number of laws on the books designed to regulate what items can be on private property, Building Inspector Charles Haseley said. And where they can be located.
Town code definitely weighs in on what can be placed on public property, including the end of driveways. For instance, vehicles without motors need to be attached to motorized vehicles if parked on public property like streets, Haseley said. Such requirements allow said items, like towable trailers, to be moved immediately if an emergency situation arises.
Separate codes enforce what can be parked on front lawns and how much space must exist between a driveway and property lines, he said.
But, he added, there’s no direct code restricting the storage of larger trailers, campers, RVs and boats, if stored properly.
Adding code would be difficult, too, board members said.
“Besides the right-of-way, how do you tell people what they can do with their property,” Councilman Charles Teixeira said.
Ultimately, it’s a years-long problem some in the town face, Supervisor Lee Wallace said. The situation often comes up in the summer, with visitors choosing to camp in campers on friendly property or boats being stored temporarily between trips onto the water.
Wallace, who is leaving the board at the end of the year, said there needs to be some kind of solution as they hope to protect the people just trying to leave their own homes.