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Parking Rules Create a Rift In Pr. William

RV, Boat Restrictions Rile Some in County

By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 10, 2005; Page B01

Prince William politicians are trying to polish up the county's image, but Kimberly Agner never really minded the old one.

Sure, there was the occasional Camaro on cinder blocks, but there used to be fewer people and fewer cars, and a self-respecting person could park a motorboat in front of her house without offending the neighborhood.

"Our boat affects nothing as far as impeding traffic," says Kimberly Agner, who opposes street parking restrictions in Prince William. (Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)

"It was freer then," said Agner, 35, who grew up in the county and is nostalgic for how it was.

But in the new Prince William of Heritage Hunts and Hunt Chases, where rising household incomes rival those in Fairfax and Montgomery counties, politicians are taking steps to make the county resemble its neighbors in other ways -- to the displeasure of some longtime residents accustomed to living as they please.

In other words, Agner's Sea Fox 230 fishing boat, the Kimberly Dawn, potentially is a problem because it is parked on a public street in front of her colonial.

A 1997 county ordinance restricting the parking of boats, boat trailers, motor homes and camping trailers on public streets is being implemented block by block throughout the county, where much land is devoted to recreation.

Although new subdivisions typically have covenants restricting what they consider to be unsafe or unsightly, homeowners associations have lacked authority over the public streets in their neighborhoods.

Many of those associations, and residents of some more established neighborhoods, are petitioning the county to apply the ordinance. The county -- interested in public safety but also in curb appeal -- is happy to oblige.

"The public safety issue is really a big issue," said Supervisor John D. Jenkins, a Democrat from the Neabsco District, in which street parking of powerboats has been common. "And aesthetics, you know, is certainly part of it. We are not going to allow our county to turn into a slum area."

And so, in recent months, boats and RVs have been banished from Constitution Circle, Antietam Road and swaths of residential streets in the eastern part of the county, which is home to dozens of new subdivisions, older neighborhoods, a collapsing barn here and there, and the usual strip malls and 7-Elevens.

Last week, the county granted public hearings on the issue for Lake Terrapin, Southbridge, Greenwood Farms and Agner's subdivision, Cardinal Oaks.

On one hand, safety is a concern, said Jim Riley, president of the Southbridge Community Association, which occasionally has had problems with people parking boats, RVs and work trucks in the neighborhood. The large vehicles take up too much parking space and are difficult to see around, he said.

On the other hand, he said, order and appearance matter.

"Let's face it -- by improving various neighborhoods, it's improving every homeowner's value," said Riley, adding that his home value has nearly tripled in the past five years. "There are plenty of self-storage places in the area where you can put these things."

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