By Ris Twigg
After receiving several complaints from residents over school bus stop safety concerns on Charlotte Road, Obetz Village Council passed new parking restrictions for the street on at its March 9 council meeting.
The new restrictions prohibit cars from parking on the east side of Charlotte Road — the side with the fire hydrant — between Howard Road and Bridlewood Boulevard to help parents see their kids get on and off the school bus. Cars will still be allowed to park on the side of the street without the fire hydrant.
“It makes sense just to make sure our kids are safe and our drivers can get around there,” said Obetz Mayor Angela Kirk. “It’s been an ongoing issue since the end of last year.”
Both Kirk and Stacey Boumis, director of community services for Obetz, said that the cars are packed so tightly on Charlotte Road that it’s difficult for buses to maneuver through the street.
“In that section of Charlotte Road, it (has) 24 feet of pavement. The average width of a car is between six to six-and-a-half feet. So when you have cars parked on both sides of the street, that’s taking up anywhere between 12 to 13 feet (of the road),” Boumis said. “So you can only have a bus going in one direction.”
The decision to restrict parking to the west side of Charlotte Road allows emergency vehicles to respond more easily to emergencies and access the fire hydrant on the east side of the street, Boumis said.
The passing of the ordinance means the new restrictions go into effect immediately, but Obetz Police Chief Mike Confer said no citations will be issued until the signs go up.
“No Parking” signs will be ordered and placed on the east side of the street within one week, according to Obetz officials. After the signs are installed, it’s up to Obetz police to determine how long they will issue warnings before they begin ticketing drivers for parking illegally.
Although that exact length of time remains unclear, Obetz Law Director Stephen Smith, Jr. said the village wants to make sure residents understand what the new rules are now before police start issuing warnings and citations. He said officials will have educational outreach to inform homeowners on the street and others of the new parking restrictions.
Parking in a no-parking zone is an unclassified misdemeanor in Obetz, which means any single fine accrued must be under $150.
Other Obetz news
In addition to new parking restrictions, Councilman Mike Flaherty debuted shortened village council rules and replaced old committees with new ones that are “based more on how we operate today,” he said.
Many of council’s rules were also codified in other village legislation, including the village’s 10-year-old charter and other ordinances passed by council.
“Whatever we struck out is what was duplicative,” Flaherty said.
The six new committees are Parks and Programming, Fortress Obetz, Development, Neighborhood Preservation and Beautification, Intergovernmental Outreach and Public Works and Safety.
“The committees have historically not been very active, but they were just too broad and now they’re more narrowly defined,” Boumis said.
Councilman Mike Kimbler is chair of the Parks and Programming committee; Councilman Derek Varney chairs Fortress Obetz; Flaherty is chair of Development; Neighborhood Preservation is chaired by Councilwoman Bonnie Wiley; Councilman Robert Kramer chairs Intergovernmental Outreach and Councilman Guiles Richardson chairs Public Works and Safety.
“I think this will be a better way for us to communicate with our constituents because our committees were not really doing anything, except for parks and rec,” Flaherty said.
Any Obetz resident can get involved in any committee on council. Committee meetings are held publicly and are posted in advance on the village’s website and social media. Committees work closely with Obetz staff and the mayor on community projects in that area. Council committees are used to study issues in the community and make recommendations to council as a whole, Boumis explained.
“So our hope is that at every council meeting we’ll all have committee reports instead of just parks and rec,” Flaherty said.