Tractor-trailer parking a growing problem in east metro area

CONYERS — The city of Conyers last month approved an ordinance prohibiting the parking of heavy vehicles on residential property, but some small business owners are finding the law too restrictive.

Conyers resident Kamien Toomer addressed the City Council Oct. 18 to ask for leniency on the new law.

Toomer owns a single tractor-trailer, which he operates as his business. He told the council that he never parks trailers on his property, but he does park his tractor in his yard when he is not driving. However, he was recently visited by a code enforcement officer warning him he will be cited if he doesn’t move his truck. Three other drivers in his neighborhood were also contacted by code enforcement, he said.

“I don’t have the luxury of not parking in my yard,” Toomer said. “There is nowhere to park in the city or the county.”

Toomer said that his only alternatives are a truck stop at the Pilot on Bouldercrest Road in DeKalb County or a truck stop 45 minutes east in Madison.

He said neither of those options is ideal for security reasons or for the sheer distance. Toomer said that The Home Depot has generally been accommodating for over-the-road truckers, but they allow only so many trucks to park in their lots.

Toomer explained that the truck driving industry is highly regulated, with strict rules governing how many hours of rest drivers must receive between driving jobs.

“I shouldn’t have to waste five hours of my 10-hour break driving around looking for a place to park,” he said.

“There has to be some kind of alternative to help out with parking,” Toomer said.

City Attorney Michael Waldrop said that the remedy is for truck owners to work out arrangements with local industrial property owners who would be willing to lease space for truckers to park.

In fact, one local businessman has responded to this need in the market.

Dan Moore, owner of East Metro RV and Boat Storage, has developed a business — East Metro Truck Parking — to help meet the increased demand from truckers who are finding it more and more difficult to park their trucks.

Moore said he operates two paved lots that are fully rented by local manufacturers for parking their trailers. In addition, he’s working to lease a 7-acre parking lot in Newton County where truck drivers will be able to rent parking space.

Moore said he rents individual reserved truck parking spaces for $150 per month. His lots are fenced with security-coded gate locks and security cameras.

Moore attributes the growing difficulty in finding truck parking to increased awareness of zoning ordinances that were already on the books and the increase in the demand for truck drivers. He said he believes the east metro area — particularly Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties — has a high per capita rate of resident truck drivers.

Moore said available land in the appropriate zoning for truck parking is limited in Conyers and Rockdale County. In addition, he said, Conyers, Rockdale and Covington require that the lots be paved, which further limits finding appropriate parking spaces.

Moore said that finding unpaved land and paying for it to be paved for truck parking would be cost-prohibitive.

“I would rather look for pieces of property that basically got caught up in the economic downturn and utilize them because they are already paved,” said Moore. “Then, when the market comes back, we can move the trucks off it and let them do what they want.”

Moore credits local governments in Conyers, Rockdale, Covington and Newton with cooperating with truckers to help find suitable parking. “They realize they are part of solving the problem,” he said.

As technology for trucks improves and use of technology becomes more widespread, Moore said it’s likely the demand for suitable parking will become more intense. Some trucks already have onboard computers that calculate the hours driven and shut the vehicle down when a driver reaches his maximum hours without a rest break.

“Truck parking is a horrendous problem nationwide,” he said.

Editor Alice Queen contributed to this report.

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