Pickup Owners Feel Put Out By Ban on Overnight Parking

Montgomery Village neighborhood associations have generally banned the overnight parking of pickups and commercial vehicles. Many pickups end up on Arrowhead Road and other roads outside the forbidden areas.
Montgomery Village neighborhood associations have generally banned the overnight parking of pickups and commercial vehicles. Many pickups end up on Arrowhead Road and other roads outside the forbidden areas. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
By Steve Hendrix
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

As a pickup truck owner, Frank Lanahan logs a lot of miles -- on foot. Like other truck owners in Montgomery Village, he has to bypass the many vacant spots in front of his townhouse and park his Chevrolet Silverado a half-mile away on a public street.

Each night, Arrowhead Road, Apple Ridge Road and other Montgomery County streets in the area are lined with block after block of Chargers, Rangers, Tundras and the other open-bed exiles of the Village's long-standing ban on overnight pickup parking.

"Here's another county street where second-class citizens have to park their vehicles," Lanahan said during a recent tour of the neighborhood as he turned the corner onto a road lined with pickups. "Pickups are parked in Potomac, they're parked in Georgetown, they're parked in Foxhall, but we can't park them in our neighborhood? It's ridiculous."

Montgomery Village neighborhood associations have generally banned the overnight parking of pickups and commercial vehicles since the planned community began to emerge from the fields of central Montgomery County in the 1960s. At that time, pickups were seen as the vehicles of choice mostly of farmers and contractors.

But as trucks have evolved from working rigs to fully equipped personal vehicles -- Lexus bling on long-bed frames -- Lanahan and other pickup owners have grown to resent the ban.

He and other owners have also tried to fight it, but with only limited success. Last month, two lawmakers tried to take legislative action against blanket bans on trucks used as personal vehicles but withdrew their bill after an outcry from opponents who didn't want to see the state meddling in home association rulemaking.

Dennis Barnes, president of the North Village Homes Corp., said he still sees general support for the ban throughout Montgomery Village. Although people don't object to pickups as a class, he said, they don't want to see their neighborhoods filled with construction vehicles and cluttered work trucks.

"It's still valid," Barnes, of North Village, said of the ban. "You can have nine out of 10 pickup trucks that are beautiful, but the 10th one has tools and wires dangling from it. I'm concerned about the precedent it would set."

Barnes and other officers of the homeowners associations said the rules are fair because they are well known to anyone buying a house in Montgomery Village.

"The rules are posted on the signs at the entrance of every community," said Michael Gronsky, president of Stedwick Homes Corp., who recently defended his neighborhood's pickup parking ban in court. "People moved in knowing about these restrictions."

Lanahan said he knew of Montgomery Village's many dictates, which include rules about paint color and grass length, when he moved in to the Patton Ridge neighborhood 20 years ago. But he said he never expected the pickup ban to be enforced so vigilantly. A private security team regularly patrols the area in the wee hours, placing neon green warning stickers on illicit trucks. Those that aren't moved are towed at the owner's expense.

"Tell me how it makes sense that this one is okay and mine is not," Lanahan said, pointing to a worn, rusted Chevrolet Suburban parked near his house. Sport-utility vehicles and passenger vans, even beat-up ones, are allowed under rules that exclude his $30,000 late-model pickup. "It's just discrimination."


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