Drive by Walmart on County Line Road or Sam’s Club on Emerson at night, and take a look at what has some Greenwood residents complaining to the mayor.
During the last few months, residents have called the mayor and city officials with concerns about the number of semitrailers parked overnight in the parking lots at the stores, both near exits of Interstate 65.
So what’s all the commotion about? Mostly, residents are unhappy with how it looks to have trucks parked in a lot.
The majority of all complaints are directed toward truck drivers pulling off the interstate and parking to sleep overnight at the Walmart because residents don’t like the way it makes the parking lot look.
“Residents don’t like it,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “A lot of them think all those trucks parked looks trashy, that it looks more like a truck stop than a Sam’s Club or Walmart. They have been more about it being a public eyesore, not a nuisance.”
For now, the city isn’t taking any action and is not too concerned because the trucks are parked on private property, are gone by morning and not causing a disturbance or traffic problem. If you’ve ever driven across the country, you’ve likely seen truckers parked in Walmart lots overnight in most communities.
Sam’s Club and Walmart sit in the Interstate 65 overlay district, where rules do not allow semis to be parked for more than 24 hours, planning director Bill Peeples said.
When city officials have looked into the matter, they’re not finding semis on the property longer than 24 hours, and most are gone by the morning.
Some Walmart and Sam’s Club locations ve traditionally encouraged long-haul truck drivers to use their parking lots to get rest after a long day of driving, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesperson Betsy Harden said.
However, the Greenwood Walmart at Emerson Avenue and County Line Road does not allow truck drivers to pull off overnight and park, Harden said.
“(Walmart) has signs posted (no semi parking) signs throughout the parking lot,” Harden said. “We appreciate our truck drivers and want to be helpful where possible, but parking (overnight) interferes with the flow of traffic.”
Sam’s Club and Walmart lots are both private property, so, it would require a zoning violation for the city to step in. Walmart could ask the truck drivers to leave for trespassing, but city officials can’t ticket the truck drivers or their companies — let alone enforce any rules — just because the semis are parked there, Peeples said.
Semis parked for more than 24 hours anywhere other than the shipping dock are considered stored property, and that’s when it becomes a violation, Peeples said.
“I’m not sure I would call this an issue,” Peeples said. “I have no idea why the parking of semis at a large warehouse (for) commercial use along one of (Greenwood’s) widest and busiest streets is a cause for (concern).
The residents who are complaining may not know the legal restrictions truck drivers face regarding the amount of hours they can drive in one day, New Whiteland resident Jeff Dillow said. Dillow has been a truck driver for 25 years.
The law says that a truck driver is allowed 14 hours on the clock and only 11 of those hours can be spent behind the wheel. After 14 hours, the driver must be off the clock for 10 hours.
For example, if a truck driver starts the day at 6 a.m., and finishes the day at 8 p.m., that driver cannot get back on the road until 6 a.m. the next morning.
A lot of the drivers who are parked at Walmart and Sam’s Club are sitting there because they ran out of hours, Dillow said.
“Places like Walmart give us a safe place to stop for the evening. They have security cameras, and we even serve as another set of eyes (for them),” Dillow said. “I always try to stay in a parking lot like Walmart, and when I do I’m always in the back of the lot. (Truck drivers) are away from the building, and we’re not in anybody’s way.”
The fact that the complaints focused more on the appearance of Walmart and Sam’s Club when semis are in the parking lots reflected what Dillow said is an unfair stigma that accompanies truck drivers.
“I think there’s a stereotype of what truck drivers used to be and what they are now,” Dillow said. “People should sit back and think about how hard it is to (do our job) with rules and regulations on the amount of time we can drive.
“A lot of times you see semis parked at on-off ramps. That’s not safe, but sometimes we have no choice. We’re not home to go to bed each night like everyone else.”
The temporary solution will be requesting that Walmart and Sam’s Club have truck drivers park away from the main lot. Both stores have been good neighbors and easy to work with, Myers said.