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* Public Parking Garages Under Attack


JohnPinho
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Mayor Raymond McDonough and six of eight council members voted this afternoon to introduce Ordinance 1223 which will repeal Town Ordinance 886 that was adopted on March 2, 1993 to regulate Public Parking Garages in the Town of Harrison. The Ordinance was the only item on the agenda.

Several attorneys representing owners of existing parking lots in the Redevelopment Zone were at the meeting. The meeting was moved from the Third Floor Conference room to the Second Floor council chambers because there were not enough seats in the Conference room to accommodate all attendees.

At the public session, there were several attempts by the attorneys attending the meeting to speak about the Ordinance. With varying success, the attorneys made several points objecting to the repeal of the Ordinance which appears to be an attempt to eliminate other parking garages in the Redevelopment Zone in effect eliminating any competition to the town's new Public Parking Garage.

Mayor McDonough stated that the public would have an opportunity to speak on the Ordinance at the public comment session to be held on December 1, 2009. The attorneys stated that they will be in attendance. Daily commuters may find their way to Harrison's Town Hall since their daily parking rate will undoubtedly be effected by the elimination of all parking garage competition in the Redevelopment Zone.

It is fairly clear that Mayor McDonough seeks to eliminate all other public parking garages in the Redevelopment Zone. Since there are no public parking garages outside the Redevelopment Zone, the new Public Parking Garage will be the only place commuters can park. The latter appears on the surface to be a brilliant move on the part of Mayor McDonough. The parking lot owners apparently were not anticipating such a move and have been caught off guard.

The preamble to Ordinance 1223 sets forth the rationale for eliminating surface parking lots, "Due to the amount of land taken-up by surface parking lots, which is not beneficial for the Town, the Plan requires structured parking (i.e. multilevel parking garages) in lieu of surface parking lots in the redevelopment zones" In other words, the Redevelopment Zone plan provides that there is a better use for the land than its current use as surface parking lots. Litigation will undoubtedly result if Ordinance 1223 is adopted.

The Redevelopment Plan provides for a scheme of construction. The plan does envision converting areas occupied by surface parking lots into buildings. However, can a municipality outlaw by elimination of an Ordinance the current use of a property. If Ordinance 866 is repealed, parking lot owners will still be able to use their properties to park cars. The surface parking garages would be grandfathered in as a permitted use. So eliminating Ordinance 866 signed by then Mayor Frank E. Rodgers will deregulate parking lots and therefore eliminate the means by which the town enforces the collection of a parking tax and conduct of parking garage owners.

I commend Mayor McDonough for his valiant attempt to think outside the box but the repeal of Ordinance 1223, in my opinion, will not achieve the goal of making the Town of Harrison more revenue. The repeal of Ordinance 866 will cost the town of Harrison loss of parking tax revenue, increase legal fees paid to attorneys, and cause chaos and resentment by longtime surface parking garage owners and commuters.

The lack of transparency in the manner that the Town of Harrison operates makes it difficult to really know what exactly Mayor McDonough is attempting to accomplish.

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Mayor Raymond McDonough and six of eight council members voted this afternoon to introduce Ordinance 1223 which will repeal Town Ordinance 886 that was adopted on March 2, 1993 to regulate Public Parking Garages in the Town of Harrison. The Ordinance was the only item on the agenda.

Several attorneys representing owners of existing parking lots in the Redevelopment Zone were at the meeting. The meeting was moved from the Third Floor Conference room to the Second Floor council chambers because there were not enough seats in the Conference room to accommodate all attendees.

At the public session, there were several attempts by the attorneys attending the meeting to speak about the Ordinance. With varying success, the attorneys made several points objecting to the repeal of the Ordinance which appears to be an attempt to eliminate other parking garages in the Redevelopment Zone in effect eliminating any competition to the town's new Public Parking Garage.

Mayor McDonough stated that the public would have an opportunity to speak on the Ordinance at the public comment session to be held on December 1, 2009. The attorneys stated that they will be in attendance. Daily commuters may find their way to Harrison's Town Hall since their daily parking rate will undoubtedly be effected by the elimination of all parking garage competition in the Redevelopment Zone.

It is fairly clear that Mayor McDonough seeks to eliminate all other public parking garages in the Redevelopment Zone. Since there are no public parking garages outside the Redevelopment Zone, the new Public Parking Garage will be the only place commuters can park. The latter appears on the surface to be a brilliant move on the part of Mayor McDonough. The parking lot owners apparently were not anticipating such a move and have been caught off guard.

The preamble to Ordinance 1223 sets forth the rationale for eliminating surface parking lots, "Due to the amount of land taken-up by surface parking lots, which is not beneficial for the Town, the Plan requires structured parking (i.e. multilevel parking garages) in lieu of surface parking lots in the redevelopment zones" In other words, the Redevelopment Zone plan provides that there is a better use for the land than its current use as surface parking lots. Litigation will undoubtedly result if Ordinance 1223 is adopted.

The Redevelopment Plan provides for a scheme of construction. The plan does envision converting areas occupied by surface parking lots into buildings. However, can a municipality outlaw by elimination of an Ordinance the current use of a property. If Ordinance 866 is repealed, parking lot owners will still be able to use their properties to park cars. The surface parking garages would be grandfathered in as a permitted use. So eliminating Ordinance 866 signed by then Mayor Frank E. Rodgers will deregulate parking lots and therefore eliminate the means by which the town enforces the collection of a parking tax and conduct of parking garage owners.

I commend Mayor McDonough for his valiant attempt to think outside the box but the repeal of Ordinance 1223, in my opinion, will not achieve the goal of making the Town of Harrison more revenue. The repeal of Ordinance 866 will cost the town of Harrison loss of parking tax revenue, increase legal fees paid to attorneys, and cause chaos and resentment by longtime surface parking garage owners and commuters.

The lack of transparency in the manner that the Town of Harrison operates makes it difficult to really know what exactly Mayor McDonough is attempting to accomplish.

View the full article

John, does our Mayor ever do anything right in your eyes?

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