By Wesley Brown
Thursday, December 20, 2012
A civilian study group appointed to revive the Tar River university area spent much of its first meeting on Wednesday discussing parking, a time-sensitive issue the committee said it had a “thousand questions” about, but few answers on how to fix.
The board said it plans to launch an expansive review on parking in the newly formed University Overlay District, a 200-acre community of homes along East Fifth Street that the Greenville City Council decried in October as a “troubled” neighborhood in need of rebuilding.
The six-member group, organized to guide the implementation of the University Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, will begin its assessment on parking with a walkthrough of the Tar River area — weather permitting — on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m.
The committee plans to meet at the old City Market to take a 45-minute tour of the neighborhood to get a better visual of the community’s needs and its parking and code -enforcement problems.
“I have a thousand questions when it comes to parking,” said James C. Sullivan, who agreed to serve on the committee as a member of the Tar River University Neighborhood Association.
The way the council wrote the University Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, parking looks to be central to its success, Sullivan said.
The initiative requires all landlords between Elm and Reade streets who wish to lease a four-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot rental home to a fourth unrelated person must provide at least three off-street parking spaces for their tenants.
Greenville Zoning Administrator Mike Dail said on Thursday that in the two months since the initiative passed, only one landlord — Allison Faulkner — has complied with the initiative’s other requirements, which includes a crime-free rental addendum. Faulker was approved for a permit at a home at 117 N. Harding St., records show.
“Many places do not have space for parking,” fellow committee member Joanne Kollar, the secretary and communications chairwoman of TRUNA, said. “We need to address parking first, before allowing a fourth person into a home.”
Chris Woelkers, the vice chairman of the Pitt-Greenville Convention and Visitors Authority, agreed that it was important to settle on a policy early and not “change the game” late in the process for potential applicants.
Among the charges of the study group by the council is to draft a parking permit plan for all licensed residents and employees in the initiative’s defined district, with a select number of permits available for purchase for East Carolina University students, staff and faculty.
Funds generated from the program are expected to be dedicated to increased code enforcement, trash collection, lighting and security in the neighborhood.
Lt. Richard Allsbrook, commander of Greenville Code Enforcement Division, said his staff is short one parking officer until late January.
Program in place
Stacey Pigford, assistant traffic engineer for the city of Greenville, said the city already has a controlled residential parking program in place.
Pigford said the program is a petition process. On a block-by-block basis, if 51 percent of residents agree, the city can issue three $5 permits per household to assure a resident has a spot to park.
Only about half of the neighborhood is taking advantage of the plan, a zoning map showed.
Greenville Community Development Director Merrill Flood said that after the board’s walkthrough, staff will provide information on Greenville’s existing parking ordinances and the revenue the city generates from parking tickets and permits.
Flood gave a brief overview of additional parking standards. One notable change: parking must be on an improved surface — asphalt, concrete, gravel — and no more than 30 percent of a front yard can be covered. Unlimited, stacked parking is allowed in backyards.
Sullivan, a 45-year resident of the university neighborhood, said he wants to know how the city enforces and permits all parking in the neighborhood, including both marked and unmarked spaces on the street, in driveways, yards and apartment lots.
The group agreed to meet the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
At its next meeting, the board plans to decide whether to name a chairperson to lead the group or have Flood act as facilitator. Early discussions showed the group preferred a facilitator, a request city attorney Dave Holec said was “unusual,” but not illegal.
“I think of this as a working group and I do not want to break down the leadership,” Woelkers said. “I would like to keep us as equals.”
Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.
via The Daily Reflector.