Dover Party Bus Owner Struggles With Driveway Restriction - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Party Bus Owner Struggles With Driveway Restriction

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A Dover man said he's receiving unfair treatment by the city because a party bus he operates for a part-time job isn't allowed to be parked on his driveway, though government officials are refuting his claim of being singled out. 

James Owens said the city's code enforcement department told him he could not park the bus on his driveway because it violates a restriction on commercial vehicles that can hold 1 ton or more.

However, Owens, who said he operates the bus to transport groups of people on a part-time basis among his other jobs, said that quality is shared by many contractors' pickup trucks he's seen parked in other driveways.

"All of them would be in violation once they start using their vehicle for commercial purposes because of the carrying capacity but none of them seem to be targeted.

A recent letter from the city told him Owens he could apply for a variance from the Board of Adjustments, but as a small business owner he says he can't afford the hundreds of dollars it would cost him.

City Planner Ann Marie Townshend said parking the bus in the driveway not only violates the city's weight rule but also zoning laws for the Mayfair community. She said some trucks used by contractors or other businesses may break the law if they're parked in driveways and clearly appear to be commercial vehicles and added that Owens' vehicle has the words "Party Bus" and his phone number on its exterior.

She added that the enforcement related to Owens' vehicle was the result of numerous complaints, saying that code enforcement officers don't necessarily go looking for violations.

Lisa Fennington, who lives across the street from Owens, said she's had code enforcement issues with the city too. She sided with the father of four, saying a recent code enforcement letter from the city was "harassment."

"It's very petty," she said. "There's no reason for anyone to cite that as a violation."

In order to avoid fines, Owens parks the bus in the Rodney Village shopping center parking lot. He said he worked out an agreement to leave it there, but he said it's a relatively far walk from his house.

Since he drives his four kids to school and other places in the morning, he said he has to get up an hour earlier than usual to make sure he can get the kids to school and other places.

"Rain, Sleet, snow hail," he said. "It just seems like it's a lot to deal with." 

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