October 9, 1997
You have the following question: Can the city prohibit three (and more) axle vehicles on a certain city street that is the exclusive service road for a mobile home dealer in Georgia? Based on the facts you related to me, the answer is probably no.
The facts you related to me include a mobile home dealer in Georgia who has occupied the same place of business for many years, is in an area properly zoned for the use of a mobile home business under Georgia law, and who has no access to his business except via the city street in question.
While Tennessee municipalities have extremely broad power to regulate the use of their streets, it cannot regulate them in such a manner as would be unreasonable, deny access of business owners to their businesses, and burden interstate commerce. As I understand the mobile home delivery business in the context of your question, three axle transport vehicles are both necessary and common. It is said in 7A McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, 24.656, that, "Furthermore, it has been declared that when cities exclude heavy trucks from certain streets, they must leave open to them other suitable streets, and the alternative route should be adequate, safe and suitable." The same authority also says, that, "Ordinances establishing routes for trucks or commercial vehicles through a city usually are regarded as reasonable and upheld. However, heavy trucks may not be restricted to a route so hazardous and inadequate that they would be virtually denied a route through a village." Although those citations apply to heavy trucks, they apply with equal force to business motor vehicle traffic generally.
In your case, restricting the road to three axle vehicles would significantly diminish the ability of the Georgia mobile home dealer to conduct his business, a legitimate business in which he has been engaged in the same place for many years. The city street in your city provides the only access to the business, and if three axle vehicles are prohibited on that street he has no other access to his business with three axle vehicles.
Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant