HARTVILLE A mere four months after enacting a village-wide parking ordinance, village council is headed back to the drawing board after public outcry against the ordinance. Council rescinded the ordinance at its Oct. 24 regular council meeting and the issue will again be addressed at a streets and drainage meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at village hall, 201 W. Maple St.
Councilman and Streets and Drainage Committee Chairman Dave Hubbell said that while council consulted with residents and the village streets, fire, and engineering departments to establish road widths for permitted parking, it "missed the mark" in some areas where residents felt the ordinance was too restrictive.
Residents James Peach and Coni Dutka commended council for its decision to rescind the ordinance, with Peach stating that it "shows your responsiveness to the needs of our neighborhoods." Both Peach and Dutka live in the Indian Village neighborhood where most of the resident concerns originated.
"When you are dealing with neighborhoods, you can’t do it with a cookie cutter," Peach said, adding that demographics, density and the history of the neighborhood should all play in to the decision. "It’s always important to identify actual problems or if they just happen at specific times. The police and neighbors (are the ones who) know the problems (in a neighborhood) and parking can be a life-affecting situation."
Dutka, who has lived in Indian Village for 32 years, said she and her neighbors have always handled issues such as those presented with the parking ordinance independently.
"That is what our town is about – not sticking our nose in other people's business," she said.
Prior to the council vote, however, Hubbell expressed some frustration with having to backtrack on the legislation.
"I wish people would have figured out what it was before we enacted it, but it should be pretty easy to adjust," said Councilman Dave Hubbell of the ordinance, which allows parking on streets 20 feet in width or wider and restricts or prohibits parking on streets less than 20 feet wide.
More than 25 residents, mostly from the Indian Village subdivision, attended an Oct. 11 streets and drainage committee meeting and expressed concern over how the ordinance may affect parking in their neighborhood. Ironically, residents in Indian Village were the primary impetus behind the ordinance, Hubbell said.
"We consulted with the fire department to determine the proper width (of a roadway) if someone parks on both sides," he said. "There were so many in Indian Village that (are narrow enough) resulted in no parking on either side that it may be too restrictive."
Mayor Cynthia Billings said that some residents have not realized that the ordinance is village-wide and not singling out streets in certain areas.
"Probably the only way to fix it is to not have it at all – just have parking on one side of the street everywhere," she said.
Hubbell, however, said there are still some streets in the village that "we definitely don’t want parking on both sides" in order to allow access for emergency vehicles. But there may be wiggle room in Indian Village in his opinion.
"Part of what we will look at is those (width) cutoffs," he said. "And we are probably within a foot or two of allowing parking on one side."
At the Oct. 3 village council meeting, Wauconda Trail resident Douglas Betts said the parking ordinance began with good intentions, but has created "unintended consequences."
"In 25 years, there has never yet had any issues getting to my street," he said. "But now there are only two streets (in Indian Village) that anyone is allowed to park on."
This, Betts said, will create parking problems on those two streets – one of which is Wauconda Trail.
"I would request that you re-look at this ordinance," Betts said.
Ottawa Circle resident Shirley Hawkins, however, said there were indeed parking problems in Indian Village prior to the ordinance and she feels the ordinance has helped correct those issues.
"Those signs have been put up for a reason – there were a couple times we were not able to get into the circle," Hawkins said. "It’s been very helpful."