District 4 Businesses to Get Parking Placards
District 4 parking plan warnings start Friday; ticketing starts June 22
District 4 businesses will get parking placards for employees so they are exempt from the District 4 parking plan restrictions that go into effect on June 22.
The placards for employees will have the name and address of the businesses they work for, but not the names or addresses of individual employees, so the placards can be shared among employees, said Municipal Clerk Maryann Ellsworth on Wednesday.
Councilmembers Stephen Reid and William Mayer, who have always been against the parking plan, voted against the ordinance, while it was supported by councilmembers Kristine Tooker, Bret Gordon and Michael Corbally. Councilmember Tim Lurie was absent.
Those supporting the parking plan say it will help clear residential streets earlier of those who disturb the peace, including urinating, defecating and dumping trash on private property and making excessive noise in residential neighborhoods.
Opponents say that like the earlier bar closings, it will cause a great inconvenience to boardwalk bar patrons, ultimately causing a drop in profits for those businesses and, consequently, a drop in income for many of their employees.
Warnings will be issued to those violating the parking plan, which restricts overnight parking in non-metered spaces from midnight to 6 a.m. in District 4, starting on Friday and tickets will be issued from June 22 through Sept. 10.
Those exempted from the restrictions include District 4 residents and taxpayers, who each get five parking placards per household; residents and taxpayers in Districts 1, 2 and 3 who each get one parking placard per household; and District 4 businesses who get placards for employees who need to park during the restricted hours because of their work schedules.
The ordinance governing the plan states it goes into effect on "the Monday before Memorial Day weekend." However, the governing body had decided to start it later to give the town time to order and post signs; to send out letters to residents, taxpayers and businesses in District 4 and to have a week of warnings before enforcement starts.
The ordinance is in effect only for this summer as a pilot program and will then be re-evaluated. If the mayor and council want the plan to be in place in the future, they would have to introduce and adopt the ordinance again.
The parking plan has already sparked three lawsuits: one filed by Jenkinson's and Martell's against the municipality, mayor and councilmembers; one filed by the two businesses against Councilmember Michael Corbally specifically; and one filed by a local marina and several charter companies against the town and governing body.
Mayor Vincent Barrella said the municipality's insurance carrier is covering the cost of legal fees for the lawsuits.
Ron Braen, owner of the Miss Michele III charter fishing boat and one of the plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuit, said on Friday he had not realized he would be able to receive free parking placards for employees who work late nights and early mornings and that he would call Borough Hall for more information.
He also said that does not address all of his concerns about the parking restrictions, including how it potentially impacts patrons, who need to park at various late night and early morning hours for fishing trips.
District 4 extends from Manasquan Inlet on the north to the middle of Arnold Avenue on the south, the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the railroad tracks on the west, according to a copy of the parking plan ordinance.
The amendments adopted on Tuesday night also include prohibiting the resale of parking placards and allowing free parking in the Silver Lake parking lot on Arnold and Ocean avenues from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the months the parking plan is enforced.
District 4 business owners who want placards for employees to be allowed to park in non-metered spaces need to complete written forms and submit them to the Point Beach Business Administrator's office.
The forms must include "the commercial entity’s name and address, the names of the employees to whom the parking placard would be issued, the employees driver’s license number, the employees vehicle license number, and the employee’s home address," the ordinance says.
Each employee of a commercial entity is limited to one parking placard, the ordinance states.
At Tuesday night's crowded meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the parking plan, including complaints from some residents about having their home addresses on placards that will be visible as they hang from their rear-view mirrors.
When asked about that on Wednesday, Corbally said, in an email, "Yes, a handful of residents are concerned about their address on the placard for various reasons. I understand their concerns and we will look at making adjustments moving forward. All residents may fill out an appeal form and we will try to accommodate them.
"We will evaluate the program in its entirety after the summer for its effectiveness," he continued. "I am proud that we are making an attempt to improve the quality of life of our residents."
Barrella said he would talk to Police Chief Kevin O'Hara about the issue of addresses on placards.
Some residents also complained that the signs about the new parking restrictions went up weeks ago, which has caused confusion among some visitors, as well as some residents, about whether parking has been allowed where signs are posted.
Ellsworth said signs went up last month because originally the town was aiming to have the program fully in place by May 21, as specified in the original ordinance (which said the plan would start the Monday before Memorial Day weekend). Once signs came, public works crews were able to post them fairly quickly, but the town later decided to postpone the start of enforcement to allow time for placards to be ordered, distributed and for letters to go out.
Those letters explaining the parking plan were mailed to residents, taxpayers and businesses in District 4.
However, that doesn't help visitors who don't see those letters or read local media reports. Town officials have hoped that installing signs before enforcement began would also help visitors start to get used to the idea that parking restrictions would be in place soon.