By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Chatham Square residents will now be eligible for District 2 parking permits, with restrictions, after a vote at city council’s public hearing on Saturday.
Council’s approval will allow Chatham Square residents to obtain parking permits for their second cars only, meaning one- and two-car households would have to park their first or only car in their garages.
Residents of the 152-unit development have expressed frustration for years about a restriction in the 2002 Chatham Square development special use permit that prevents them applying for parking permits.
The Chatham Square homeowners’ association filed a request to remove this restriction in May. City staff reviewed the proposal using the Residential Permit Parking for New Development Policy, a policy approved by council in 2017 to address the issue of restricting new residents from obtaining permits.
The proposal has drawn opposition from other Old Town homeowners who have expressed concern about increased density and how it would complicate already-crowded street parking.
On Saturday, the applicants and their opponents had to wait through a lengthy hearing that lasted most of the day for council to hear their testimony. While they waited, the two sides spent time negotiating among themselves to try to come to a compromise.
Although they did not come to total ceasefire, they did take several steps toward a solution. During the public hearing period, supporters urged council to approve the request with conditions to appease the opponents, while many opponents requested deferral in order to continue negotiations.
Several residents in support of the proposal said the garages attached to their units, supposedly two-car garages, were too small to fit two vehicles.
Barbara Bush Cooper said with no other items in her garage but her garbage cans, which are required to be kept there by city code, her car is eight inches from her husband’s car and 10 inches from the wall.
William Jacobs, president of the Chatham Square HOA, said the residents have proven many times that there would be no increase in density, since many of them are already on the streets shuffling their cars every few hours because they can’t fit in the tight garages.
“We are compelled to shuffle our cars every two to three hours from 8 to 5,” Jacobs said. “An eco-friendly city cannot afford to have autos restarting and moving superfluously just to avoid getting a ticket.”
Yvonne Callahan, former president of the Old Town Civic Association, requested that council defer the proposal for one month so stakeholders could continue compromising.
Cathleen Curtin, a resident who lives adjacent to Chatham Square and opposed the request, said that after negotiating with neighbors, she supported allowing permits for second cars only.
“The first car would be in the garage,” she said, “and the second would be allowed a District 2 parking permit equal to the rest of the community. And if there is a third car, that third car can go into their two-car garage.”
After the public hearing period, Councilor Tim Lovain said either compromise he had heard proposed – to allow one permit per household or to only allow a permit for a second car – were better than the planning commission’s recommended approval without restrictions.
“At this point, I prefer the second car one because the general city policy to not over park, that would help restrain the cars on the street,” Lovain said.
His motion to allow residents to apply for one parking permit per unit if they register a second car with the city was approved unanimously.