Tensions rise over Manchester parking Downtown stores, residents at odds NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

June 23, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The tug of war between Manchester businesses and Main Street residents over parking may be heating up again.

Main Street business owners want parking spaces out front available for customers.

"The parking is very, very bad for business owners in Manchester," said Sandi Coppersmith, owner of Sandi's Treat Shoppe on Main Street. "You always see all the customers riding around the block looking for a parking spot."

During the day, Mrs. Coppersmith works at her husband's Main Street business, Ken's Appliance Service, Inc. It is important for his customers to have parking available in front of the store, she said, because they may be picking up or delivering heavy appliances.

But some Main Street residents say they are tired of two-hour parking restrictions between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., except Sundays, which force them to move their cars frequently to avoid parking tickets.

Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. said Friday he would ask the Town Council at its meeting tonight if it would like to reconsider the parking question.

Residents Kelly and William Bolt say they will go door-to-door on Main Street this week to talk to residents about parking and to drum up support for a local Neighborhood Watch.

Mr. Bolt said he is "fortunate," because he and his wife now have two off-street parking spaces.

But he said the town should have parking meters along Main just south of York Street, where businesses are concentrated. On the rest of Main Street, he said, there should be two-hour parking, with the option for street residents to buy a yearly permit allowing them to park in front of their homes.

Mr. Warehime said a permit system might be difficult to enforce, because the town would have to decide how many permits to grant for each address.

Also, Mr. Warehime said, a permit system might encourage residents who have off-street parking to use Main Street spaces instead.

And the problem with installing parking meters, he said, is that "it would cost the citizens money."

Manchester Police Chief Donald M. Myers said he is not lobbying for a particular solution. He said when the town looked into the parking problem two years ago, he had recommended consideration of a resident permit plan.

"The way that the parking is being done is not working," said Mr. Bolt at the Town Council meeting June 8.

The same night, his neighbor, Gary Cronin, displayed a petition containing 18 signatures of residents who want to see the parking time limit removed.

Mr. Cronin also said the Manchester Police Department selectively enforces the two-hour limit.

Chief Myers said there is no selective enforcement of town codes.

"False. Absolutely false," he said Friday of Mr. Cronin's allegation.

When Manchester police officers mark tires to enforce the parking time limit, everyone's tires are chalked, Chief Myers said.

"We've even chalked state police cruisers," he said. "I've even given the mayor a ticket."

Chief Myers said "sour grapes" might be involved in Mr. Cronin's complaint, because of Mr. Cronin's earlier difficulties in contesting a parking ticket.

Mr. Cronin said Monday that he had contested the ticket because he thought the time limits needed to be changed.

Mr. Warehime said one factor that may have contributed to an appearance of selective ticketing is that, "By state law, we cannot ticket a car with handicapped tags" for overstaying the two-hour limit.

He said the town had commissioned a survey two years ago of the parking requirements of residents and businesses.

At the time, he said, some Main Street parking spaces were limited to 30 minutes. The survey results indicated that residents wanted longer, two-hour limits, he said.

"This was what everybody wanted," Mr. Warehime said.

"We can't solve all problems for all people," said Town Manager Terry Short. "If I rent an apartment that doesn't have any parking, that's my decision," he said.

But Mrs. Bolt said, "If that's the only spot that they can afford, where else are they going to go?"

Mr. Short said the Main Street area is zoned as a local business district. "By its nature, we're trying to discourage residential parking. We have very few and very fragile businesses in town," Mr. Short said, and the town is trying to nurture them.

Edith Ballard, an employee of Act 1 Video, said it would make more sense to extend the two-hour parking limit into the evening, when people are home and some businesses are busiest.

Mrs. Coppersmith said the town should consider building a municipal parking lot on Main Street.

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