Banner Senior Staff Writer
Parking spots around Johnston Park recently changed to two-hour parking will have the limits lifted following complaints by residents at The Summit and downtown employees about parking issues.
Summit resident Margaret Martin spoke to the Cleveland City Council about the issue during a meeting Tuesday.
Martin brought with her a petition with 32 signatures asking that the two-hour limitation be lifted.
“The residents and staff of the Summit have lost their place to park and are being forced to park blocks away from their home or work site,” Martin read from the petition.
She said since the new restrictions, many of the parking spaces are remaining empty.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he felt the signs limiting the spaces to two-hour parking should be removed. City Manager Janice Casteel said installing the signs had not been an official vote. The Council had simply asked staff to take care of it. Casteel said she would see that the signs were removed.
The Council had also heard complaints from businessmen in the area at a meeting last month.
Whether the Summit was legally required to provide adequate parking for residents was also discussed.
Councilman At-Large Richard Banks said he thought there was a legal requirement to have enough parking spaces for an apartment building.
Jonathan Jobe, director of the city’s development and engineering department, said he thought residential building in a business district received an exemption.
Casteel said she would contact the The Summit’s owner asking them to look into the situation.
Even though many of the residents do not drive because they are elderly or have disabilities, Martin said the 12 parking spaces provided were not adequate for those who did drive.
The two-hour parking limitation did not accomplish what the Council had set out to do. Rowland said the limits were originally set to keep a homeless man who lives in his car from parking there day after day.
“It seems so unfair ... that this was because of one individual,” Martin said.
She said people had offered the man help and housing. However, he keeps returning to the spot, Martin said.
“He keeps moving (his vehicle) from space to space now to avoid being, I guess, hauled away,” Martin said.
Legal restrictions on when the city can tow a vehicle have kept the issue from being permanently solved.
City attorney John Kimball said the vehicle is not immobile and has not been in the same spot for several days because he keeps moving it.
The individual received a parking ticket earlier this year and was able to pay it off. Rowland said the man is a veteran and had been offered housing through the Veteran’s Affairs office.
The possibility remains of creating permit-only parking spots.
“There are cities in Tennessee that do licensed parking spots,” Kimball said.
Fourth District Councilman David May Jr. said he would like to know how many people there are living downtown who would need parking.
Kimball is still researching options.
Also during the meeting, the Council approved a resident-requested annexation for about 14 acres on Young Road. Rezoning requests for 51 acres of Westland Drive to mixed use and 1 acre on Huff Avenue to Commercial Highway were also approved.
The Council again discussed the possibility of helping with costs associated with moving a traffic light pole out of the doorway of a downtown building.
Second District Councilman Bill Estes said he would like to see movement toward a business being put on the site before the Council makes a decision. A local businessman has bought the downtown building. However, at a Council meeting last month he said he has not finalized possible uses for the building. Apartment housing was one possibility. Estimated cost to move the pole is $8,400.
Estes asked if there would be any benefit to city infrastructure.
Cleveland Utilities Signal Coordinator Tad Bacon said the only benefit to the city would be in replaced wiring. In the past when such issues have arisen, business owners have paid for moving the poles. Some councilmen were concerned that helping with the cost of moving the pole might set a negative precedent.