Cars shouldn’t be parked on dirt or grass on private property in Brookfield, but requiring pavement might be too much, most planning commissioners agreed at a meeting June 30.

The commissioners didn’t vote on a draft of the off-street parking ordinance, but instead asked for an opinion from the village engineer about whether gravel parking areas would be a good enough compromise to help reduce dust and improve the look of the village.

“We want to try to make this affordable for residents,” said Plan Commissioner Jeane Eineman.

Many residents have called and written letters to the village objecting to a proposed ordinance, floated by village staff, that would force all homeowners to pave off-street parking areas. The residents responded following a June 22 story in the Landmark about the new law.

At the June 30 meeting, a handful of residents told commissioners that instead of requiring paved parking spots, the village should instead help pay for the paving of alleys.

“I don’t feel like my 14-foot by 20-foot space is a dust problem,” said resident Scott Patton. “It’s clear it’s the alleys that are the problem.”

Resident Doug Bartlett said he shouldn’t be forced to pay what could be thousands of dollars to pave his parking spaces.

“I’m glad you may consider an alternative. I just put in two yards of gravel, and it only cost me $50,” he said.

Commissioners agreed that they don’t want to burden residents financially. Christopher Straka, chairman of the commission, said the village staff will research different materials, and will bring another draft of the ordinance back to the commission.

He said he’s not sure when the issue will come back to the Plan Commission. There may not be a meeting in July and August, Straka said. A meeting of the body is scheduled for Sept. 22.

The disagreement centers around a misunderstanding by village staff over the current law.

Ruth Ann Blyth, the village’s planning and zoning administrator, said it had been commonly believed that the ordinance required that residents pave their private parking areas.

Blyth said it’s been village belief that the ordinance already required people to keep off dirt or gravel parking areas. However, further scrutiny revealed that the ordinance only requires pavement for people who own three or more vehicles.

The ordinance, amended in 1990, reads “All off-street parking areas, except the two parking spaces required for each single family detached dwelling, shall be paved and have a dust-free surface.”

“The dust-free ordinance we thought we had doesn’t exist,” she said.

Commissioner Stephen Hyzny said the law wasn’t just to try to cut down on dust, but to encourage people to park on their property instead of taking up space on the street.

The Plan Commission can approve or deny a proposed ordinance, and then forward it to the village’s Board of Trustees. The ordinance would have to be approved at the board level to go into effect.

One property owner did speak up in support of paved parking areas. Steve Campbell, a Riverside resident who owns several commercial and residential properties in Brookfield, said gravel won’t do the job.

“Something should be done to improve the environment of Brookfield,” Campbell said. “If you’re going to park your car, boat, trailer, whatever on your property, it should be on a hard surface.”