Parked outside Herbert T. Washabaugh's home in Silver Spring is the white van he uses to pick up and deliver the baked goods that are his business. He calls it his "means to support my family" and says it is threatened by a measure pending before the Montgomery County Council.
Washabaugh, 59, bought a Pepperidge Farms franchise seven years ago when his employer of 28 years went out of business and left him without a job.
He describes the van as ordinary. There is no commerical lettering, and Washabaugh said he has never gotten a ticket, never had a neighbor complain.
Washabaugh's van and many other commercial vehicles would be banned from parking overnight in residential neighborhoods under legislation the council is considering.
Under the measure, which attracted nearly 100 contractors and owners of small businesses to a public hearing yesterday, commercial vehicles with gross weight over 10,000 pounds would be banned, while those weighing between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds would be permitted, but only if parked in a garage.
Washabaugh said his truck is registered at 10,000 pounds and if the law were enacted he couldn't comply. There isn't room on his property for a garage, so, he asked council members yesterday, how could he support his wife and three children.
Washabaugh wasn't alone in telling the council that the proposed law would hurt people. William Collins, owner of a plumbing, heating and air-conditioning business in Bethesda, said his employees who use commercial vehicles to get to work would suffer, as would his customers.
"We provide emergency service . . . at nights and on weekends," Collins said, adding that that is possible because his workers have their trucks at home.
The three-hour discussion had other themes as some in the standing-room-only crowd invoked their right to own property and said the bill was a slap against blue-collar workers.
Eric Dundon of Kensington spoke of the "age-old struggle of the elitist class and the working class." He said he was being asked to build a garage so elitists don't have to look at "anything as unsightly as a truck."
One speaker said a fully equipped Cadillac would probably exceed the weight limit, and Washabaugh said he couldn't understand why recreational vehicles would be permitted but not something necessary to his livelihood.
The law was introduced by council member Neal Potter, who said large trucks had created some problems in the county. He said the legislation was not intended to hurt small-business people and he hoped compromises could be reached.
Edward S. Milenky, president of the Manor Lake Civic Association and one of the few speakers to support the legislation, testified: "Large trucks, outsized vans, even tow trucks and buses have invaded the streets of our communities, causing parking problems, complicating snow removal, imposing undue wear and tear on local roads not designed for heavy, continuous loads, and significantly degrading the appearance and property values of the affected areas."
The proposed law was sent to committee for what council aides predicted would be significant changes. Council member William E. Hanna Jr., who heads the committee that will deal with the issue, said "the catch is to find the middle road" between the rights of the neighborhoods and the small-business owners.