Oct 10, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
After months of discussion, drafting, and debate, the ad hoc parking committee appointed by the Village Board has come up with recommendations for changes to the Parking Trust Fund law — no fee to businesses for a lack of required parking spaces and a scaling back on the requirement for off-street parking spaces.
These changes will be presented at the Oct. 13 Village Board Meeting. At that time, the village board will decide if it approves of the recommendations, and if so, when to hold a public hearing on the proposed changes.
“I feel good about it,” said Trustee Mary Sennett, one of the members of the parking committee. “We hope this is something that is accepted; hope we’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. It will be great to have more eyes look at it and think about, and if anybody has anything they want changed they can speak at the public hearing or get in touch with us.”
Sue Dove, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and parking committee member said, “We’re not done with process yet, but after listening to the public and to businesses who told us what they didn’t like about the previous law, this is what we’ve come up with.”
The 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.
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 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.
The committee was comprised of Trustees John Cromp and Mary Sennett, Chamber Members Bob Eggleston and Arnie Rubenstein (With input from Sarah and Peter Wiles), and Chamber Director Sue Dove.
The committee’s recommended changes include:
—No fee to businesses for a lack of required parking spaces.
—Scaling back the requirement for off-street parking spaces. Going forward, the only time a business would have to meet off-street parking requirement guidelines are if they provide housing or overnight accommodations, and for all uses in the Commercial “C” District, and for the “general” and “accessory” uses currently in the Village Code such as churches and schools. Off-street parking would not otherwise be required for the “D” District.
Dove explained that if you are opening a retail store or an office you not have to provide off-street parking. If you are opening a restaurant in the Downtown “D” District you do not have to provide off-street parking. However, if you are opening a hotel/B&B or inn you must provide the appropriate number of off-street parking spaces.
“The rationale behind this is that we do not have an abundance of overnight spaces in the village, and the market demands that these uses generally require on-site parking,” she said.
Dove further explained that the recommended changes would not be retroactive. For example, The Sherwood Inn would not have to make any more parking spaces, but any new lodging, houses or apartments must be able to provide proper amount of parking for its customers.
“So if the Holiday Inn wants to come they must have parking on-site for number of rooms proposed,” Dove said.
Both Dove and Sennett said the committee was focused on supporting economic development in the village with its recommendations.
“It was felt that the $7,500 fee was a deterrent to economic development, so that was something we took into serious consideration,” Sennett said.
Another significant issue the committee discussed was available parking in the village. Sennett said the committee used the existing municipal lot — which has a mixture of free and fee parking — as a “good model for us to use as we make more parking available.”
The committee will present its recommendations at the village board meeting, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 13.
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.