A seemingly innocuous public hearing to prohibit overnight parking on Laurel Avenue, a dead-end residential street, generated both confusion and controversy at the April 7 public meeting of the Mamaroneck Town Board.
More quietly and expeditiously, the board announced its bid for Hampshire Country Club. The board also approved authorizations (for improvements at the Senior Center and to lease a replacement ambulance) and set two public hearings: April 21 on a bond resolution to fund purchase of a new ambulance; and May 5 to review modifications to plans for an apartment building being developed by Byron Place Associates.
This week, the Town issued new (mostly higher) rates for parking.
Over-Night Parking – or Not?
Previously, Dennis O’Toole, a resident of Laurel Avenue, had approached the Traffic Commission with his concern about cars parked all night in front of his house. He requested that Laurel Avenue be removed from the list of 14 town streets exempt from the 3am-6am parking ban. The Traffic Commission concurred, and at its last meeting, the Town board scheduled a public hearing on the issue.
Some background: In 1970, the Town banned overnight street parking. In 1984, the law was amended to allow 17 (as of this date, 14 streets are listed) exemptions, including the “south side of Laurel Avenue from Thompson Street east.”
The lack of clarity in that original description of Laurel Avenue, which is intersected in the middle by woods, the uncertainty about subsequent determinations on the status of the exemption and simmering neighborhood resentments turned a simple traffic matter into a complex one.
At the April 7 hearing, Laurel Avenue residents spoke in favor and against lifting the exemption.
Richard Ruggiero, a thirty-five year resident of the street, provided some history. He said when the police began ticketing cars left on the street overnight in 1999-2000, residents petitioned the Traffic Commission, explaining they were unable to park all their cars in their garages and driveways. The ticketing then stopped and overnight parking was permitted on the south side of the street.
Dennis O’Toole, after presenting a supporting letter from a neighbor, described the difficulty in pulling a car out of the narrow dead-end street, which has no outlets or sidewalks. He noted cars are sometimes parked on the street for several days posing snow removal problems, lowering property values and creating safety issues for children playing there. He argued that residents should park their cars in their garages or driveways.
Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe suggested that his argument, if valid, applied equally to daytime parking, while the local law, if extended to Laurel Avenue, would deal only with overnight parking.
Countering Mr. O’Toole was a petition in favor of the exemption that was signed by nine neighbors. Maureen Denyssenko noted the hardship for families with multiple cars and insufficient driveway space. “Everything was fine until three and one-half years ago when we got a car for our son to drive,” she said. “We had to park one car on the street.” Mr. O’Toole was annoyed when the car remained on the street for three days once when her son was away.
“Mr. O’Toole does not have a hardship,” she said. He has one car and rarely has company, she added.
Doris Block, chair of the Traffic Commission, said her group found no rationale for exempting Laurel Avenue. In a visit to the neighborhood, she found the houses to have fairly large driveways and to be similar to other streets for which there is no overnight exemption.
As Supervisor O’Keeffe asked, “What is the difference between this street and any other street? Is there a rational basis to make this street different from other streets?” She went on to ask, if the exemption is allowed, is it fair to allow overnight parking on one side of the street and never on the other? And finally, what deference should be given to the Traffic Commission’s current determination?
After listening to the residents’ concerns, the board adjourned the public hearing to May 5. In the interim, there will be a review of the history and legal status of the exemption and the Traffic Commission’s recommendation.
Just a reminder: Remember the local law the board was going to pass repealing restrictions on residents’ overnight parking of cars in their driveways less than 25 feet from the curb? It’s still in limbo waiting for a board decision. Most of the cars parked in driveways are probably violating the law on a daily basis.
Public Hearing on Byron Place Site Plan Changes: Moved to May 5
After reviewing Byron Place Associates’ modifications of plans for a multi-story apartment building on Maxwell Place, the Planning Commission deferred taking further action. Instead, the Town board will hold a public hearing on the changes at its May 5 meeting.
This is a project that has been reviewed multiple times in the past decade by both the Town Board and the Planning Commission. The changes requested at this point are relatively small, primarily a move from 139 to 149 units.
Whither Water Rates?
Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe and Town Administrator Stephen Altieri attended a recent meeting with representatives of the Town and Village of Harrison and the Village of Mamaroneck to discuss water rates for each municipality. The supervisor cautioned Town residents to be prepared for rising water rates (no pun intended). Administrator Steven Altieri noted, with increases in the cost of treatment, there is “no cheap water anymore.”
Further details will be discussed at the board’s work session on April 21 and its public meeting on May 5.
Bid Made on Hampshire
The Town of Mamaroneck and Village of Mamaroneck jointly made a bid to acquire the Hampshire Country Club, which is for sale with a list price of $14.9 million. Supervisor O’Keeffe announced the bid, but gave no details on the amount.
So far, there is no word from the club on whether it will accept this bid – or any other. “We have nothing,” said Mr. Altieri on April 14.
Mamaroneck is continuing to work with the Trust for Public Land, a national organization that helps municipalities acquire land for public use. With the aid of the Trust, the two communities are looking for private partners to help put together a deal advantageous to all, should the bid be accepted.
A Gazette poll conducted earlier this month garnered considerable community interest and a lopsided result in favor of issuing as much as $10 million in bonds to purchase the club. Out of a total of 741 votes cast, 627 ( 85%) supported the sale; 96 (13%) were opposed and 18 (2%) were undecided.