Fallsmead News
TRUCKS IN FALLSMEAD - INPUT NEEDED
Posted on Oct 24th, 2020

In 2010, the Fallsmead homeowners, by a vote of 202-46, adopted our current covenants that include a list of prohibited activities. In that list is a prohibition of the overnight parking of (1) commercial vehicles, and separately, among other things, (2) trucks, unless garaged.  These two covenants do not bar homeowners from owning trucks or commercial vehicles, or using them in a business.  It only requires that these vehicles be garaged overnight.
 
The covenants provide no guidance on what is defined as a truck other than its structure, that it is something distinct from a commercial vehicle. These same covenants were distributed to every home in Fallsmead in 2010 and have been provided to every new homeowner since then. 
 
The Board of Directors has enforced this covenant in response to complaints of possible covenant violations. The definition of “truck” that has been used to enforce this covenant has been essentially “A vehicle with a flat/cargo bed, and/or a physical divider between the passenger cab area and the other portion of the vehicle OR a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVHR) 10,000 pounds or greater.”
 
In light of the apparent disparity in the covenants that allow very large SUVs to park overnight in the neighborhood without being garaged while small trucks, often used as personal vehicles, are required to be garaged, the Board obtained legal advice regarding the options it has enforcing this covenant (the Board does not have the option of not enforcing a covenant).
 
In response, the attorney advised the Board that under Maryland state law, even when the SUV is built on a truck chassis, it is not considered a truck, but instead is classified as a “multipurpose passenger vehicle.” The attorney further provided an analysis of different definitions of the word “truck” for the covenants and recommended that the Board issue a Rule and Regulation no matter what definition it chose in order to provide clear guidance to the community. 
 
Following this legal advice, in the beginning of the year the Board created a committee to study the issue. Following a solicitation for committee members in the Fallsmead Forum, a committee of six volunteers was formed. The committee conducted research into the history of the covenant and had multiple meetings during which the committee discussed different options. Ultimately, the committee presented a definition of truck that the Board has been using and presented two other options that could be considered to allow for a less restrictive definition. These three definitions were distributed to the community in the September issue of the Fallsmead Forum, which also advertised that the options would be discussed at our October community meeting.
 
At our community meeting last Wednesday, there was a vigorous discussion of the issue, including a claim that the covenant had never been enforced against light-weight/pickup trucks. The Board, after reviewing prior Board meeting minutes and consultation with three past Board Presidents, has found no support for this claim.  Having heard from the community during this meeting, the Board intends to discuss the options at its November 9th meeting.  
 
If anyone who could not attend the meeting has an opinion on what definition the Board should adopt, please send an email with your comments to president@fallsmead.org by no later than November 8, 2020.
 
An excerpt of the covenant is below along with the three proposed options that were put forward by the special committee that studied this issue (one of which was slightly modified by the Board).  Each option contains a description of the option followed by a specific definition of “truck” and “commercial vehicle” to be adopted as a Rule and Regulation. 
 
Article VII, Section 4 of the Covenants requires the overnight garaging of:
1.           Commercial Vehicles of any type, and 
2.           Trucks, trailers or unlicensed motor vehicles of any type.
 
Options 
 
1. No change. The current practice effectively requires the garaging of all trucks – i.e. vehicles with flat beds – as well as commercial vehicles. This includes all light trucks (aka pickups). Although unwritten, the current interpretation of the terms is:
 
Definition of a Truck:  
 
A vehicle with a flat/ cargo bed, and/or a physical divider between the passenger cab area and the other portion of the vehicle OR a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVHR) 10,000 pounds or greater.
 
Definition of a Commercial Vehicle:
 
A passenger vehicle or truck that is designed for or used in a commercial business. Examples of commercial vehicles would include, but not be limited to: taxicabs; panel vans; vehicles designed to carry more than 8 passengers and vehicles with lettering and other business logos prominently displayed on the exterior.
 
2. Light trucks with cabs and covers exempt. Permit overnight parking in driveways and the street of light trucks so long as they had a cab or cover over the flat bed such that all cargo - including ladders, tool chests, and equipment – be wholly contained and not visible. This would make them not dissimilar to SUVs, which are currently allowed under the Fallsmead Covenants.  All commercial vehicles would still have to be garaged overnight.
 
Definition of a Truck:  
 
A vehicle with an exposed flat/ cargo bed, and/or a physical divider between the passenger cab area and the other portion of the vehicle, OR a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVHR) 10,000 pounds or greater. An otherwise exposed cargo bed is required to be covered by a fitted and intact covering such as a tonneau cover - a tarp is insufficient - to avoid being categorized as a truck by the Fallsmead Covenants.
 
Definition of a Commercial Vehicle: 
 
A passenger vehicle or truck that is designed for or used in a commercial business. Examples of commercial vehicles would include, but not be limited to: taxicabs; panel vans; vehicles designed to carry more than 8 passengers and vehicles with lettering and other business logos prominently displayed on the exterior
 
3. Light trucks under 10,000 gross vehicle weight exempt. Define trucks in such a way as to not include light and light medium trucks i.e. explicitly permit class 1 & 2 light and light medium trucks, which are defined by the Federal Highway Administration as having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVHR) of less than 10,000 pounds. All commercial vehicles would still have to be garaged overnight.
 
Definition of a Truck:  
 
A vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVHR) 10,000 pounds or greater.
 
Definition of a Commercial Vehicle: 
 
A passenger vehicle or truck that is designed for or used in a commercial business. Examples of commercial vehicles would include, but not be limited to: taxicabs; panel vans; vehicles designed to carry more than 8 passengers and vehicles with lettering and other business logos prominently displayed on the exterior.