When Debra Hicks recently gave a Tupperware party at her home in Cheverly, she spent a lot of time peering out a front window, waiting for the town police to raid the party.
Not that Hicks and her visitors were up to anything nefarious. But some guests had parked their pickup trucks on the street outside Hicks' Belleview Avenue house. In Cheverly, that's against the law.
"I was waiting for the police to come and ticket all the trucks," said Hicks, who owns two full-sized pickups and a Bronco camper. "I hate it. I think it's stupid."
Hicks was speaking of the 20-year-old Cheverly ordinance that prohibits drivers from parking most pickups on streets in the town. Twenty years ago, according to Cheverly Mayor Alan M. Dwyer, most pickups were big and ugly and didn't fit in with the town's manicured yards and narrow streets.
Pickups have changed over time, and now come in sleek, slim and sporty models. But attitudes about the vehicles apparently haven't changed.
A referendum to ease Cheverly's parking restrictions was on the ballot in May 1983, but voters rejected it 502 to 187. "To politicians," Dwyer said, "that's quite a mandate."
The issue was dead for awhile. But last September, in response to complaints, Cheverly police issued about 25 tickets for pickups, carrying $15 fines, and the truck owners' dissatisfaction resurfaced. Enforcement has continued since then, but with less zeal, said Town Administrator John L. Fitzwater.
Hicks, whose party guests did not get ticketed, is considering circulating a petition to get on the May 1986 ballot another referendum that would relax the law against pickups.
Pickup lover Jim Giragosian complained about the ordinance in a letter to the editor of Four Wheeler magazine, a monthly national publication for truck enthusiasts. John (Buzz) Dewey, a 15-year Cheverly resident, went to District Court after he received a ticket for parking his Datsun pickup in front of his house.
"The assistant state's attorney wouldn't even prosecute," Dewey said.
Mayor Dwyer is ambivalent about the ordinance, which allows pickups to park on streets only if they weigh a maximum of three-fourths of a ton, carry no advertising and have secured passenger seats in the truck bed.
"The ordinance was written with a view toward maintaining a noncommercial appearance in our residential community," Dwyer said. "I'm all for that. But if attractiveness is the issue, my '68 Chevy deserves a ticket."
Bordered roughly by Landover Road, Rte. 50, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Tuxedo Road, Cheverly has a population of about 5,700 people, many of whom know each other. As such, the parking ordinance has been an issue that not everyone has been willing to talk about publicly.
Dewey thinks the touchiness about the ordinance has as much to do with Cheverly's changing population as anything else. He believes the town's older residents complain most about the pickups.
One woman, a Cheverly resident for more than 30 years who did not want her name published, said in defense of the ordinance: "I want to keep Cheverly beautiful. I don't want to see it go downhill."
Dewey, a leader in the referendum movement two years ago, noted that his Datsun pickup is smaller than a minivan he owns and can park on the street.
"It no longer makes sense," he said. "Geez . . . a lot of people own small pickups today."