By Judy Reed
The Cedar Springs City Council voted Thursday night, May 10, to send a controversial parking ordinance back to the planning commission for review, and ordered a halt to its enforcement.
The ordinance came under scrutiny last month, when resident Beth Karafa complained that she was not allowed to park in the gravel area between her yard and the road, in the city’s right of way, although she had been doing it for 16 years. Officer Nick Barbour, the city’s code enforcer, has paid her several visits and ticketed her on at least two occasions.
Guests are supposed to be allowed to park in front of a home, whether in the roadway or on the grass. However, Becky Powell, of S. Linda Street, told City Council Thursday night that she had received a warning from Barbour when her daughter-in-law visited. Powell said her daughter-in-law had all four wheels in the yard because she had to get her grandchildren in and out of the car. “He said two tires had to be on the road and two in the yard, and that he would be watching me, and if I continued, I would get fined,” explained Powell.
She said he then went across the street to talk to a sickly neighbor, whose husband had just died, about the need to mow her ditch. “I just think he needs to have a little sensitivity, kindness,” said Powell. “He was a little cocky, I guess.”
Police Chief Roger Parent made it clear that when Officer Barbour is working on Wednesdays enforcing codes, Barbour reports directly to City Manager Christine Burns. But Parent did say that all streets are wide enough for two-way traffic, and that temporary guests should be able to pull off into the grass. He also said that you do have to park with the flow of traffic, however, and not facing the wrong direction. “It’s a matter of are you impeding traffic?” said Parent.
Another resident asked about whether she, as a homeowner, could park on her own lawn.
Mayor Charlie Watson told council members, during their workshop before the meeting, that he was going to suggest sending the ordinance back to the planning commission. He said that he has had phone calls from people about it, even before the latest complaints.
He told the public during the council meeting that he has always had difficulty with the ordinance. “I think at the time it was the best ordinance that we were able to come up with. However, in hindsight, I think there may possibly be some changes we need to make to the ordinance,” he said. “I’d like to ask the City Manager to put a hold on any enforcement action while this ordinance is sent back for review.”
The council passed the motion, which related to only a specific section of the parking ordinance, then later rescinded the action and voted to send the entire parking ordinance back to the planning commission for review.