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COUNCIL TO KEEP PREROGATIVE ON PARKING EXCEPTIONS

The Common Council decided last week that it would keep the job of deciding when to give exceptions to the ban on parking between the sidewalk and curb in the city-owned right of way.

The city is considering a new parking law to replace a seldom-enforced 1948 ordinance. Parking would still be illegal on front lawns or in the city right of way, but the Council had been debating whose job it was to consider exceptions.

Enforcement duties in the right of way would remain with the police, while building inspectors will continue to enforce violations of the parking ban on front lawns.

The new ordinance, to be submitted to the city and county planning boards, calls for city Planning Board review of existing front-yard parking.

The Council talked about grandfathering the existing parking arrangements but did not change the proposed law to allow that. As it now stands, they would all have to be reviewed by the Planning Board.

Residents would have to show "that no other practical parking alternative exists on the premises or demonstrate extreme hardship." They also would have to pave the parking spaces with asphalt or concrete.

"There's nothing I dislike more than going down the street and seeing some guy parked between the sidewalk and the curb with the mud and the stones," said Council President John T. Pitrello.

The proposed law also says no exceptions can be given unless there is less than 10 feet of property between the side of the house and the nearest property line. If there is more than that, people are supposed to park behind the house.

"Many of the people are parking in front yards as a matter of convenience, not necessity," said Glenn J. Hazelet of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Alderman Scott R. Elliott, D-1st Ward, expressed amazement. "I can't believe people park on their lawn because they don't want to move cars around," he said. "What kind of person does that?"

The parking ordinance has created a problem not only because driveways are lacking in some older neighborhoods, but also because Lockport does not allow on-street parking.

Alderman Sean M. Smith, D-2nd Ward, said that this position ought to be reconsidered.

"In certain neighborhoods, it would make all the sense in the world to look at odd-even parking," he said, referring to a system where parking is allowed on one side of the street on odd-numbered days and on the other side on even-numbered days.

Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said he has been against allowing on-street parking in the whole city because it would give fleeing criminals more hiding places.

"There's a number of times we've caught burglars in cars, under cars," Merritt said. But he was not firmly opposed to trying it in some neighborhoods.

However, the chief did say that if his men are responsible for ticketing cars parked illegally between the sidewalk and the curb, he wants a visible permit of some sort to be required in the car.

Alderman Mark J. Dudkowski, D-3rd Ward, said the city should issue tags to be hung from rearview mirrors.

Dudkowski grumbled about the delay in the process caused by McCann's determination to refer the proposed ordinance to the county and city planning boards. The county board meets Oct. 15. McCann said it must approve the ordinance because it is a zoning ordinance amendment.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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