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Council Drives Home Three Parking Ordinances

Ordinances attempt protect property rights, fight overcrowding

Campbell Way homeowner Martin Davila parked his frustration in front of the Herndon Town Council during its public hearing last Tuesday evening, Jan. 15.

"My street looks like a junkyard," said Davila, a native of Peru. "In daily life there are too many cars parked here. We try to respect them — they have no respect for us," he said about the non-residents who park in his neighborhood.

"I'm trying to do according to the system. I worked so hard to buy my home," said Davila.

Davila's working "according to the system" was rewarded that evening as the Town Council passed three ordinances regarding public parking and the use of private property for parking.

"The intention is simple," said Councilman Dennis Husch. "Get off the grass. Do not park your vehicle on the grass on the front of your home."

<mh>Front Yards

<bt>The ruling concerning front yards, which includes driveways, limits to 35 percent the allowable impervious surface that can exist. The ordinance prohibits parking of "vehicles on the front and side yards unless parked on a legally paved surface."

The ordinance defined a legally paved surface as "ground surface covered with cobblestones, clay-fired bricks, concrete precast paver units (including but not limited to grasscrete), poured concrete, blacktop, or other asphaltic or rubber mixture which may include sand or gravel as an ingredient and which creates a hard surface. A graded natural surface or a surface covered with rolled stone or loose gravel is not a paved surface."

In her objection to the ordinance, Van Buren Street resident Connie Hutchinson said "this limits the number of cars a family can have," noting that hers is a family of two adults and three teen drivers. "We have four parking spaces — one must park in the street. You are placing a government restriction on how residents live their lives. There is only one roadway of gravel in my neighborhood."

"Added gravel to extend or widen a driveway is not a problem. That's a red herring brought up by a member of the community," said Husch. "Gravel is so far down the list of importance. It's very difficult to craft an ordinance that doesn't gore someone's ox."

"You don't write an ordinance for the one percent. You write an ordinance for the 99 percent," said Councilman William "Bill" Tirrell, Sr. noting the support of the proposal from other speakers.

Jeff Ryan Drive resident Guy Masters called upon the council to support the ordinance in order to "preserve the aesthetics. One of the biggest investments we make — our home. Preserve its value," Masters said to the council.

"Limit the number of cars per household, stop cars from parking on the grass, preserve the quality of life now and real estate values in the future," said Clark Street resident Chris Monteleon.

"People can't live five families in one place," said Davila.

"This is an important first step to try to resolve overcrowding," said Councilman Michael O' Reilly.

"The Town Council is very limited in the tools it has to deal with citizens' complaints about overcrowding," said Husch. "One tool is the police power to regulate parking. We can not be arbitrary in that enforcement. That's the attempt with these ordinances."

The ordinance regarding impervious surfaces on front yards took effect the night it was passed, Tuesday, Jan. 15. Violation of the ordinance by parking on the front or side yard on an unpaved surface could result in a $50 fine, said Town Attorney Richard B. Kaufman. Violation of the ordinance via the creation of an excessively large paved surface on the front or side yards could result in a fine of $100, said Kaufman.

<mh>Total Property

<bt>Another aspect of the ordinance limits to 50 percent the amount of impervious surface that may exist on the entirety of a property — including the driveway, footprint of the house, sheds, pools or other outbuildings.

Councilman John De Noyer voted against the ordinance regarding the entire property. "I would rather start out with 35 to 40 percent." It limits the percent of impervious surface to under 50 percent, he said.

"I want to be liberal here," said Husch in allowing a property owner greater latitude with his or her own property. "It supports property owner's rights. If we become too Draconian, we may be accused of reducing the value of property."

"This gives people plenty of room to do what they need. We're not infringing on people's property rights," said Tirrell.

The ordinance regarding impervious surfaces on the total property took effect the night the council passed it, Tuesday, Jan. 15. Violation of the total property ordinance could result in a $100 fine, said Kaufman.

<mh>Parking Permits

<bt>While the council took steps to limit the impervious surface allowable, it took a more passive role regarding the issuance of parking permits in the Town.

"If you want more government, come and ask for it," said Tirrell.

"Pass the residential parking permit," said Monteleon. "I have paid the fee in three other places — it works."

"We strongly encourage passage of this ordinance," said Waterford Park homeowners association president Kelly Horne. "They climb our fences. The Herndon Police Department is working with us. With the Alabama Drive renovations coming, the overflow will be on our street. Our residents have nowhere to go."

In order for parking permits to be issued, and on a per neighborhood basis, three criteria must be met, said Husch. The homeowners of a given neighborhood must demonstrate that they want a permit parking program with 60 percent support via petition.

The next criteria calls for the town to survey the public parking spaces on the street during weekdays and weekends, morning and evenings to determine if at least 65 percent of the on-street parking is used.

The third criteria to determine if a neighborhood would qualify for a permit parking program would be if 25 percent of the 65 percent had vehicles registered outside of the Town of Herndon, said Husch.

"Police will run the license plates. There's a potential $100 fine. We're protecting our residents," he said.

"The town has the ability, but left it up to the neighborhoods. We want to make sure it has the support of the public — in this case, the neighborhoods," said Tirrell.

"If these conditions are met, then a parking permit program will be instituted for that zone. Signs would be posted, residents notified and permits sold — $5 to cover administrative costs." This is not a revenue generator, said Husch.

The parking permit ordinance takes effect March, 1 of this year, said Kaufman.