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Overnight Parking Permits, Coupons Considered

Chatham Borough council discussed permanent and temporary options for residents.

The Chatham Borough Council is looking at parking permits and coupon books as potential solutions to the municipality's overnight parking problem.

Councilman Len Resto said, during the council’s Sept. 10 meeting, that the borough is looking for ways to balance the parking needs of Chatham while keeping the current “feel of Chatham,” enforced by an ordinance that does not allow street parking from 2 to 6 a.m.

“We don’t want Chatham to have an urban feel, like Hoboken or Jersey City,” Resto said. “But we want to grant space to those residents who have legitimate parking issues.”

Unlike 30 years ago when there might have been only one car per household, Resto said, many borough residents have up to four cars per house, while homes have space for only one or two cars at most. This forces residents to park cars out into the street or to past driveways onto parts of sidewalks, within pedestrian right-of-ways.

“I had a neighbor at one point with two Hummers that didn’t fit in the driveway,” he said. “One stuck out into the sidewalk, so people had to walk in the street.”

Resto explained that the Morris County dispatch receives, on average, 50 calls per day requesting overnight on-street parking in Chatham Borough. More than 100 cars are sometimes parked on the streets overnight on weekends.

Matters are made worse, he said, when students come home from college for the summer or visitors stay with residents for a weekend.

Police Lt. Brian Gibbons – part of a small committee to discuss this issue, along with Resto, Councilman Gerald Helfrich and Chief Philip Crosson – said the bulk of the calls they receive are the result of construction issues, such as containers being located in a residential driveway.

Gibbons said permits, which could be made available on both an annual and temporary basis, would go a long way in reducing those calls.

Resto said annual permits would be issued based on need, would have to be color-coded so as to not be confused with train station permits and would hang from cars’ rearview mirrors. He said temporary permits would also be available but that the term of the permit would need to be determined.

“We thought two weeks or less,” he said, “but others might see it differently.”

The committee’s other suggestion was for the borough to sell annual parking coupon books that residents could use on an as-needed basis. The coupon permits would also be hung from the rearview mirror but with the date written in.

Before the council acts, however, it will create an ad hoc citizen advisory committee to help develop one of the suggestions or come up with another solution.

Resto said the advisory committee’s main goal will be to help develop criteria, such as what constitutes need and what streets should not allow overnight parking at all.

“If you drive up Lafayette Avenue between Watchung [Avenue] and Main [Street] and cars are parked on both sides, it gets narrow,” Resto said. “Then it’s a game of chicken to see which car is going to come first and which is going to go last.”

To ensure the success of any as-needed solutions, Council President Jim Lonergan said it is important to make the process a challenge so that residents won’t just park on the street because they can.

Crosson agreed, saying the “flood gates are already open.”

“We rarely deny anyone [overnight parking],” Crosson said. “On nights when we get 100 calls, 100 people get permission.

“Permits would leave a handful of calls for emergencies.”

Sir September 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Unbelievable. Change with the times Chatham. I find it amusing they may want to charge for the passes. Since when did this turn into a for profit venture? Also, do "many" residents really have 4 cars per household? Seems like an exaggeration. I would say many more have 2. I'm embarrassed for the committee.
Parker Street September 17, 2012 at 01:50 PM
How very typical! Another knee jerk reaction to some fringe comments about turning Chatham into an "urban feel" (which oh by the way is only a loosely veiled bigoted term) and ruining the feel of the town!? HELLO - there are already up to a 100 cars parked on the street over night ( per Mr Resto). Aside from 1 or 2 vocal town hysterics who think cars will imported from "urban" areas to park in front of their house absolutely nothing will change vs. current overflow. The town is going to SAVE money by NOT fielding 50 calls a day and NOT using valuable police resources to patrol parked cars so why do we need to charge residents to park in THEIR street!? Resto's comment about cars being parked on the street and narrowing the traffic flow is completely nonsensical. Nobody is driving on the streets between 2-6am (HELLO?! before then it's perfectly "legal" to park on the street) and having chicken fights or drag races in their cars. AND if they are speeding or driving erratically then he should be recommending targeted police enforcement to address the issue. Charging residents to park in front of their homes is just plain dumb!!!
S September 18, 2012 at 03:34 AM
A fire truck trying to navigate some of the Borough's smaller streets with cars parked on both sides could have a very difficult time getting to PARKER ST.
Get a Life September 18, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Even if the Borough has inadequate sized streets that's still not a reason to charge residents who already pay a boat load of taxes to park on the street. After-all, for the other 20 hours a day residents can (and do) park on the street. This isn't about people speeding, or firetrucks having difficulty, or keeping our village look. No, it's about greed and poor judgement by our council. They want to leverage a non-issue by inciting the usual "henny-pennys" in town to cry about urbanization, junk cars, and general pandemonium that will be caused from parking on the street so they can collect more revenue. Give every house 1 or 2 mirror hangers to use as needed and dont charge us poor citizens for the privilege.
Steve September 18, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Parker-how does the town SAVE money by NOT fielding 50 calls a day? Aren't police resources patrolling the town, pausing to check a parked car, a good thing?
Parker Street September 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
According to police chief Crosson at the meeting, the daily calls are a "significant burden" to the police. And no one is saying the police should not patrol the town and per the police testimony at the meeting releasing them from this burden will IMPROVE the use of police resources - but you tell me how "pausing to check a parked car" (and OBTW stopping to write parking tickets) makes a "good thing". I have yet to 1 article on the Patch or in the paper referencing any crime solved by checking parked cars in Chatham. Charing residents to park in front of their homes is just plain dumb!!!
Julles51 September 24, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I keep re-reading the article...must be me, but I can't find the suggestion of charging for the "privilege" of parking on the street overnight anywhere! What did I miss? If they decide to charge for overnight permits they have officially become liberal ass**les who will next decide to tax the air we breathe...especially in Chatham where the air is better than anywhere else so we'll just have to pay more! Typical.
Morry Money September 25, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Julles51 - see attached quote from article (caps added by me) "The committee’s other suggestion was for the borough to SELL annual parking coupon books that residents could use on an as-needed basis. The coupon permits would also be hung from the rearview mirror but with the date written in."

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