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Votes

Perils of Parking in Burke

Burke Centre residents seek signatures for measure to reclassify parking along community streets.

Trailers, trucks and boats lining the roads of Burke Centre may soon find their days numbered, as area residents head to the polls on Tuesday armed with petitions. The volunteers hope to collect enough signatures to set in motion legislation that would allow Burke Centre to remove unnecessary clutter from its roads.

"We're hoping for safety and for more parking for automobiles, rather than recreational vehicles," said Linda Welch, who owns a townhouse in Burke Centre and is spearheading the drive to make the area a "Restricted Parking District (RPD)."

Under a legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2000, individual counties are allowed to designate certain areas as RPDs and give homeowners associations the power to monitor the Virginia Department of Transportation streets in their community.

Bruce Taylor in the Fairfax County Department of Transportation said the county Board of Supervisors is authorized, under the legislation, to amend County Code 82-5B and give the specified communities authority to enforce violations.

"We encourage them to go to their supervisor and let them know," said Taylor.

For Conservancy staff members, the legislation was the impetus it needed to take action about its parking problems.

"As soon as it was passed, we were interested in it and signed up for it as quickly as we could," said Sandy Manoogian, administrator of the Burke Conservancy's Architectural Review Board.

One problem remains: In order for Fairfax County to take action, a petition must be set before the Board containing signatures from 75 percent of the residents within the specified community.

In the case of Burke Centre, that means 75 percent of the 5,862 homes, or nearly 4,400 signatures.

"IT'S BEEN a very slow process for many years," said Greg Smith, head of the Burke Centre Board of Trustees. "We as the board would like to see it [the RDP ruling] in effect, but it takes the residents to actually petition to have that done."

According to Manoogian, the problem of vehicles other than cars parked on the shoulders of roads throughout Burke Centre is more than an eyesore, it's a logistical nightmare for residents driving or walking, especially in spots where no sidewalks exist.

"It takes up parking spaces that resident vehicles could be using. It makes our highways less safe," she said. "When someone parks on a VDOT [road], we have no control over who parks there."

That means if a boat or trailer stays on a street for a week, or a month, the only way it will be moved is by a call to the police, which Manoogian admitted "isn't always high on their priorities."

Until now, a viable solution didn't exist.

"It was such a cumbersome project that no one could figure out how to do it," said Welch, who came up with the idea of taking the petition and two duplicate copies to the polls at each of the three precincts in Burke Centre on Election Day. She and other volunteers will stand outside the polls and ask residents leaving the polls to sign the petition.

"It was the only way that I could figure out to meet enough of the Burke residents in one place to make this even feasible," said Manoogian, who said that currently the group has around 350 signatures. "We really need people to sign that petition, badly."

Once the required number of signatures is obtained, said Taylor, the Conservancy will take the petition to Supervisor Sharon Bulova’s (D-Braddock) office, and Bulova will present the request to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on behalf of Burke Centre.