IRMO, SC (WIS) - Did a Midlands elected official go too far in his argument to beautify the Town of Irmo?
Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Pouliot was one of three town leaders who supported an ordinance that will soon change how some town residents park in their own homes.
The old rule on the books was that you can't park on the street. The new rule on the books is that you can't park in your yard.
On Tuesday, many in favor of the ordinance showed up to the public hearing at town hall. Many against it did, too.
Pouliot seemed to address those people at one point of the meeting.
"Look, there's a joke out there that says, 'You must be a redneck if,'" Pouliot told the crowd that immediately scoffed. "I didn't make that up."
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, a self-proclaimed redneck, popularized a similarly worded joke years ago.
"Shame on the this Councilman, he is [supposed] to uplift the people he represents and not label us with such horrible foul words," one resident wrote on Facebook.
Another resident, Jada Powell, attended the meeting and recorded the incident.
"I'm appalled by his comment," Powell said. "He continues to make derogatory comments towards our community. It's not okay. If he says these things to us at public meetings, what is he saying about us to other people? We should have a Town Council who looks after our community, not one who shames us."
Pouliot explained in a phone interview that he simply told an unfunny Jeff Foxworthy joke to the crowd and didn't mean to imply anything by it.
"I'm sorry if people took it that way," he said. "That's not the way I took it."
The ordinance and previous parking issues came up last summer when a number of parking tickets were issued but were later voided. It was such a divisive topic, a special town council meeting was called.
Ordinance no. 17-26 now states that it is illegal to park any vehicle anywhere in the front yard of a residence except in the driveway or a parking area approved by the zoning administrator.
The ordinance will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2018.
Portions of the ordinance include:
"Parking on the grass, front lawn area of any resident is allowed for visitors and for temporary parking as long as it does not kill the grass," the ordinance states. "Parking on dirt areas in the front lawn area of a home is not allowed, except for temporary use by visitors."
A) Approved parking areas:
poured concrete slab
asphalt paved areas
concrete stepping stones, paver, brick laid out to form a parking pad
any pervious substrate such as gravel, crush and run, ground asphalt, mulch, pine straw contained within a boundary/border made of landscaped timber, railroad timber, landscaping blocks, brick, solid concrete blocks, such as to contain substrate.
B) Additional parking areas other than what is original to the homes original construction will be approved provided they meet the requirements listed in A) and meet location requirements in B).
FIRST CHOICE: Additional parking areas to be next to, adjoining, either side of the original driveway.
SECOND CHOICE: Side yard area on side of the home containing the driveway.
THIRD CHOICE: The opposite side yard area than the original driveway.
FOURTH CHOICE: Areas in front of the homes, but as close to the side yard as possible.
Irmo Police says they will be out in the community helping to inform residents of the impending change.
"The Community Services Division of IPD will be out, educating the citizens with details of the new ordinance in the next coming months," the police department posted on Facebook.