Jan 162013


Aileen Devlin/The Daily ReflectorJim Sullivan, a member of the University Neighborhood Revitalization Work Group, points out backyard parking while walking through areas of the neighborhood during a meeting to evaluate the needs of the area.
Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflecto

Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector Jim Sullivan, a member of the University Neighborhood Revitalization Work Group, points out backyard parking while walking through areas of the neighborhood during a meeting to evaluate the needs of the area.

By Wesley Brown

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On the traffic-clogged streets of the Tar River-university neighborhood, where parking is coveted like the rarest of treasures, any piece of grass, gravel or concrete is fair game for a college student in need of a spot.

Controlled-parking zones, specially marked curbs and city permitting laws are ignored in the residential district just north of East Carolina University.

In some areas, yards in both the front and back of residences are entirely used for parking, according to the findings of a walk-through of the neighborhood on Tuesday by a work group formed to revive the historic waterfront community.

“What’s fascinating about this home is there is no driveway; not even an improved entrance way,” James C. Sullivan said of a house on East Fourth Street. “The curb has been knocked down beyond total recognition.

“It’s in bits and pieces.”

Sullivan is one of six Greenville residents appointed to the University Neighborhood Revitalization Work Group. Tuesday’s walk-through was part of a comprehensive review on parking the committee is conducting in a newly formed overlay district along East Fifth Street. The City Council in October said the area is in need of repair.

More than 40 residents, city leaders and elected officials attended the 90-minute neighborhood tour, with their observations and suggestions being jotted down by city clerks for the group to consider at its next meeting on Feb. 19, when it is scheduled to recommend new policy for the city.

Greenville Community Development Director Merrill Flood said his staff will compile a report on the city’s standards for the committee to review, but the board said Tuesday it already knows where it will start: tightening the regulations on rear and front-yard parking.

City code now says that all 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 on covered surfaces, except in the College View Historic District.

But in a city that is limited to one parking control officer until late January, the laws are not being enforced to their fullest extent, and city, state and residential property is being lost to erosion.

“If they ever want to take this neighborhood and convert it from rental to single-family, I am not sure they could,” Sullivan said. “Almost 100 percent of the area’s yards are used for parking. It’s not very pretty.”

The committee started its walk-through at the old City Market, using Jarvis, Johnston, East Fourth, Student, Rotary and East Third streets to make an eight-block tour.

During the visit, city officials pulled aside traffic engineers to document recurring violations, code enforcement officers cited chronic offenders, and even one ECU student stopped the crowd to express gratitude.

Among the charges of the study group is to draft a parking permit plan for all licensed residents and employees in the initiative’s defined district, which spans Elm, Fifth and Reade streets to the Tar River.

But mass emails have been sent across the Tar River neighborhood in opposition of the objective, with the sentiment that residents do not want their neighborhood to become an ECU parking lot, even though the initiative states that only a select number of permits will be available for students, staff and faculty.

Proponents of the change remind the public that funds generated from the program are expected to be dedicated to increased code enforcement, trash collection, lighting and security in the neighborhood.

Only about half of the neighborhood is taking advantage of a controlled residential parking program in the city in which three $5 permits are issued to each residence on a block, once the majority agrees to join the plan.

Earlier in the day, Greenville’s lone parking officer wrote 48 citations in four hours in the university area for overtime, unimproved parking and parking without a permit. Five of the cars were towed because the motorists had five strikes, the city threshold for impounding.

Phillip Rogers, a member of the committee and the chief of staff for ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, said he might send out a mass email to students in the near future, warning of possible enforcement in the area.

While many of the committee members said gravel backyards would not prevent them from buying property in the neighborhood, their No. 1 priority is increasing curb appeal.

“A lot could be done with this neighborhood,” committee member Mike Saad, owner of two apartment complexes in the area, said. “It just needs some TLC from its property owners.”

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.


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