They tried for months to get Greenwood officials to change a city rule that limits whether they can park a boat, RV or trailer at their home.

But after getting what they call little response, Claude and Elizabeth Tate decided to take their frustrations to a display of art in their own front lawn.

Technically, they are following the rules, because the trailer isn’t parked in the grass. It is dangling from a tree in the front yard of their home located in The Coopers subdivision between Main Street and Smith Valley Road.

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About a year ago, the couple received a notice from the city that they needed to move their trailer from its location on the side of their home, Claude Tate said.

Claude Tate called City Hall with questions and learned he couldn’t store the trailer on the side of his home nor could he park it in his backyard because a city ordinance says that a trailer or boat can’t sit on grass, he said.

“The problem is the grass, and now the trailer is in a tree, and that’s not on grass,” Claude Tate said. “I don’t have a problem with the city saying what we can’t have in our front yard, but telling me what I can and can’t do along the back and side of my yard is outrageous.”

The ordinance says that any boat, camper or commercial vehicles such as semis and trailers of all types must be parked on a hard surface that covers the entire length and width of the vehicle. But for some residents, including the Tates, the cost to do so is too high, city council member Chuck Landon said.

For the Tates, pouring concrete or getting stone to set the trailer on could cost anywhere from $150 to more than $1,000, Claude Tate said. And other solutions such as renting a storage unit would just cost more money as well, Claude Tate said. Paying $40 a month to store a $150 trailer makes no sense, he said.

Landon wants to get rid of the rule, he said. The ordinance is excessive and oversteps boundaries of government, he said.

“This section of the boat and trailer ordinance is intrusive. I want to do away with the ordinance,” Landon said. “The front yard is everyone’s view, but when you start getting into a person’s backyard for putting a trailer or boat in their backyard — it’s their backyard — let people put a boat or trailer on grass and maintain the area around it. It’s not our business.”

The city of Greenwood will conduct a public meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the city center, 300 S. Madison Ave., where a committee is scheduled to discuss the city rule.

After receiving a notice from the city, the couple moved the trailer to the garage to avoid paying a fine. But they don’t want to store the trailer, which they use to transport canoes, in the garage. During the winter, they use the garage to park their cars to avoid ice, snow and cold temperatures, they said. But in order to avoid a fine, they have not been able to park in the garage because the trailer has to be there, they said.

And winter is when the grass doesn’t grow, which would make maintaining the area around the trailer easy, Claude Tate said. But the city told Tate he would be subject to a citation and fine if it were parked on grass in the back yard or side of his home, Claude Tate said.

For about a year, Claude Tate voiced his displeasure at city council meetings and passed along his thoughts and opinions through emails to city officials. After feeling like his concerns weren’t being considered, Tate and his wife, Elizabeth, decided to protest the ordinance to bring attention to their argument, they said.

“Good for them. I think putting the trailer in their tree is hilarious,” Landon said.

When the Tates moved to Greenwood, they bought a home in a community without a homeowners association solely for the purpose of being able to do what they please with their property, Elizabeth Tate said.

Elizabeth Tate has asked questions and raised concerns about why swing sets, trampolines and other property isn’t held to the same standards that boats, trailers and RVs are, she said. Her focus is showing the city the numerous items grass can grow up and around in backyards. But regardless of what item it is, the city council shouldn’t be telling property owners what they can and can’t have in their backyards, she said.

“We feel like we should be able to put the trailer in our backyard,” Elizabeth Tate said. “We pay taxes on our property. We shouldn’t have to park the trailer in the garage just to get the city off of our back. I’m leaving the trailer in that tree until they say we can park it in our backyard.”

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.