Nov 15, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The village board of trustees at its Nov. 10 meeting unanimously approved a new local parking law that eliminated the previous off-street parking fee for village businesses and scaled back the requirement for off-street parking spaces.
The law put to rest more than two years of conflict between local businesses and the village board.
“We feel this is a well-conceived and fair law,” said Trustee Mary Sennett, a member of the parking committee, in a statement prior to the public hearing. “Recognizing that the economic climate is different today than when the law was previously changed [in 2009], the off-street parking fee has been eliminated. In an effort to support economic development, businesses in the downtown district can increase demand for parking, with one exception, without a penalty.”
Local Law No. 3 of 2011 — to amend the village code concerning off-street parking and the Parking Trust Fund — replaces the previous “off-street parking space fee” of $7,500 per space to having no fee to businesses for a lack of required parking spaces, and reduces the requirement for off-street parking spaces to apply only to structures that provide housing or overnight accommodations, such as residences, hotels or bed & breakfasts. A property owner who modifies a structure but does not add habitable units is not subject to the new requirement.
The law also keeps intact the village’s Parking Trust Fund, which is financed by the gross receipts of parking pay stations and parking passes from the central municipal parking lot and the Fennell Street parking lot, the renovation of which currently is being discussed by the board.
The law is the result of months of discussion, drafting, and debate by the board’s ad hoc parking committee, comprised of Trustees John Cromp and Mary Sennett, Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Dove and chamber members Bob Eggleston and Arnie Rubenstein (with input from local business owners Sarah and Peter Wiles).
During the public hearing, Dove said, “I think we have a pretty good law in front of us.” She praised Sennett and Cromp for their dedication and willingness to listen to all comments and suggestions.
“This will help economic development and hopefully have no negative impact,” Dove said.
After no one else in the audience of 20 or so attendees asked to speak during the public hearing, Mayor Marty Hubbard said to much laughter, “This has definitely got to be the quietest parking meeting I’ve ever been to.”
The parking fee issue has been ongoing since 2009, when the parking trust fund law was passed that required all residential and commercial buildings in the village to have a certain number of off-street parking and loading spaces available to their residents, customers and employees. Anyone who could not produce the prescribed amount of parking — calculated by building or business size — could apply for a waiver from the village zoning board of appeals at a cost of $7,500 per needed parking space.
The law was so contentious that this past summer a new local law was proposed to amend the village code to reduce the “off-street parking space fee” from $7,500 to $1,500. After some well-attended and high-spirited public hearings and board debate on the proposed law, it was shelved and the parking committee was organized to recommend changes to the parking issue.
These changes were presented at the Oct. 13 village board meeting, after which a public hearing to consider the law was scheduled for Nov. 10.
At the end of the public hearing during the board’s Nov. 10 meeting, Sennett made the motion to approve the new law and Cromp seconded. The board passed the law unanimously, after which the audience broke into applause.
“John and Mary really need to be commended for their effort,” Hubbard said.
The language of Local Law No. 3 is available for download on the village website under the “publications” link, or a copy can be obtained at the village offices.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.