Flossmoor voters say yes to pickup trucks on neighborhood driveways

Maybe a pickup truck festival in Flossmoor isn’t such a far-fetched idea after all.
 
On Tuesday, an overwhelming majority of voters in Flossmoor said “yes” to a referendum question asking whether they would be in favor of allowing personal use pickup trucks to park on residential driveways in the village.
 
With all nine precincts in the village reporting, the vote in favor of allowing trucks to park in Flossmoor was 3,193 to 1,911, a margin of 62 percent to 37 percent.
 
It was an advisory referendum and any change in the zoning ordinance that currently bans pickup truck parking on driveways needs to be approved by Flossmoor’s plan commission and village board. But the size of the vote in favor of the ordinance change is likely to result in the village taking steps to overturn a municipal prohibition that has been on the books since the 1980s.

Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun was reached Tuesday night at the election headquarters of his brother, Judge Ben Braun, who lost his bid for Will County Circuit Court. Braun said he was happy the referendum vote was so decisive.

"What I’m pleased about is that it appears to be a clear mandate from the community that this is what they want," Brain said. "The board and I were hoping for a clear majority one way or the other."
 
Earlier this year, a survey by Scott Bugner, Flossmoor’s inspectional services administrator, indicated that the village is the only community in the United States that still prohibits pickup truck parking in residential areas
 
As he conducted the study, Bugner looked at truck regulations in 42 suburban communities, focusing on ordinances in 12 towns. All allow pickup trucks but it is not uncommon to have restrictions on the size of the vehicles. Some towns restrict personal trucks to those bearing “B” license plates, which Illinois issues to pickups weighing less than 8,000 pounds. Restrictions that prohibit commercial trucks — those with business lettering or racks for ladders — from residential areas are also common.
 
Flossmoor officials have said that they favor restrictions on the size of trucks, even if the ordinance is changed. Mayor Paul Braun has said Flossmoor will not allow commercial vehicles to park in neighborhoods regardless of the referendum outcome.
 
The village board authorized the referendum after a a number of residents — both pickup truck supporters and persons who favor the driveway ban — came to a June meeting and asked for a resolution of the longtime zoning question. Over the years, some residents have come before the board asking that driveway parking be allowed, but village officials have stood by the zoning ordinance.
 
In April, resident Luke Lambert initiated an online petition calling for a reversal of the parking prohibition.
 
At the June meeting, Lambert asked why board members couldn’t simply make a decision on changing the ordinance. Trustee Philip Minga told Lambert that the board needs more reliable input from citizens than an online petition. There is “no validation” that anyone signing the petition lives in the community, he said. A referendum would give a more accurate assessment of what Flossmoor residents think of the parking prohibition.
 
The parking ban was originally approved as a lifestyle ordinance designed to enhance the community’s aesthetics. Originally, the zoning ordinance prohibited pickup trucks from even being parked in garages, but that part of the law was changed in the late 1980s. Residents can have pickup trucks but, according to the ordinance, they must be parked in garages.
 
The validity of the ordinance was the subject of a long lawsuit, but it was ultimately upheld by a federal appeals court.
 
Village officials concede that the world — and Flossmoor — are different than they were in the 1980s and pickup trucks, once seen as dirty work vehicles, are now regarded as things of beauty by their owners.
 
At the June meeting, Braun told residents that times have changed. On election night, Braun said the ordinance could be sent back to the village Planning Commission within 30 days.
 
Tuesday’s vote affirmed that change and Flossmoor officials may want to start planning a big pickup truck parade next summer. 

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