Town Stops Veteran From Parking Truck He Deployed With at Home

After serving two tours in Iraq, Mitch Powell finds himself in a fight with Virginia Beach.

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There are some connections between man and machine that can only be forged through experience. Take Mitch Powell, who served two tours in Iraq in 2004 right after the initial invasion, and his affinity for the big 6x6 M35 cargo trucks that kept him safe as he worked in and around the front lines. So it makes sense that he'd eventually track down one of the very trucks he was deployed with and buy it, planning to turn it into a rolling memorial of sorts for his friends who didn't make it home. Now the question is: does it also make sense for the city of Virginia Beach to stop him from parking it at his house?

Both sides make their cases in a report by the Virginian Pilot. Last year, the city attorney ruled that decommissioned military trucks should fall under the commercial vehicle category, meaning they aren't allowed to be parked in residential areas. The city code classifies a commercial vehicle as anything made to carry more than 10 people or a ton (check), taller than 7 feet (check), longer than 20 feet (check), and, as city official Wells Freed told the paper, Powell's M35 is fundamentally designed as a work truck even if he's no longer using it as such. 

Powell obviously disagrees. He believes Virginia Beach should change its code to reflect the fact that people who own these trucks usually use them for charity-related purposes, and adds that he's not even allowed to park it in his back yard because of recreational vehicle ordinances. The city actually had to take him to court last year after he was cited for parking the truck outside his home and refusing to move it. The judge sided with the city, but Powell's not alone: the Virginian Pilot also talked to another M35 owner and a retired firefighter with a collection of vintage firetrucks who have waged their own battles with Virginia Beach.

So again, does it make sense for the city to uniformly enforce the parking ban like this? These are massive, purpose-built military machines, but it's not like they're being driven around daily or used for any kind of work. One man's treasure can be another man's eyesore, but hey, isn't it a free country?