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Spencer ready to rein in yard parking

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
SPENCER ó Spencer Mayor Jody Everhart took a ride around town the other week.
He spent about 30 minutes driving and photographing all the cars and trucks parked in front yards or on sidewalks in front of houses.
At Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Spencer Board of Aldermen, Everhart gave a PowerPoint presentation using the photographs he’d snapped.
“That’s what you call front-door service,” Everhart said of one car that was pulled onto grass in front of a residence, parked within feet of a front porch. “It’s their designated parking space.”
Everhart showed cars parked on grass and sidewalks in many neighborhoods in town. At one point, when one of the pictures flashed on the screen, Alderman Scott Benfield observed, “That’s the historical district.”
Everhart showed houses where residents had cut across corner lots to make driveways and houses where residents parked on the lawn out front while there was a driveway in the back.
“Now, here, you might have 50 cars at this house,” Everhart said at one point. “I don’t know what’s going on here.”
Everhart and other town officials said they’ve complained about such parking practices for years. But they said the town has no ordinances against it, an oversight they said they’d like to rectify.
Benfield noted that driving over curbs to park on sidewalks destroys the curbs. At Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen were presented a draft of an ordinance that would address the issue of front-yard parking.
In part, the draft reads, “No front-yard parking of motor vehicles will hereafter be allowed in any residential district unless parking is situated upon an improved prepared surface that extends from a public right of way. Grass and bare earth shall not be acceptable.”
No action was taken on the matter Tuesday, though aldermen voted unanimously to turn it over to the town’s planning board.
Several aldermen noted that they discussed the parking issue at a planning retreat in January 2008 and again at a board meeting last November. They agreed it’s time for an ordinance addressing the matter.
In other matters handled Tuesday, board members:
– Approved an ordinance amending the code of ordinances pertaining to non-conforming structures used by not-for-profit organizations. The matter pertains to structures damaged by fire.
– Heard from Town Manager Larry Smith that members of the Society for Creative Anachronism have been approved to use the Second Street Park from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sundays for practices. The group is involved in medieval re-enactments, using wooden swords and the like.
– Approved a resolution to support members of the Spencer Business Association in working with the Division of Community Assistance to revitalize the downtown. The approval followed a presentation by Tracy Aitken, president of the Business Association.
– Approved a proclamation supporting Reading Days 2009. On July 22, a reading event will be held at Library Park.

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