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Downtown Parking Limit Could Rise to 90 Minutes

Chatham Borough considers ways to solve congestion issues.

The Chatham Borough Council will examine whether to extend on-street parking in the downtown area from 60 to 90 minutes.

Councilman James Collander said the extension suggestion was made after speaking with multiple businesses downtown and surveying how parking is handled in surrounding towns.

“It’s the pretty strong opinion of merchants downtown that people don’t have enough time to park, shop and eat,” Collander said. “It’s too confining within one hour. The extension of that period will really help the businesses downtown.”

The conversation came after Councilman Len Resto discussed possible new approaches to the borough's on-street overnight parking issues. To address overnight parking needs, the borough may look into annual permits or coupons for temporary overnight parking in the street.

Although the borough has not conducted an exhaustive survey, Collander said he found most surrounding towns have at least 90 minutes of downtown parking, with some municipalities, such as Summit, featuring five hours of parking in some locations.

Chatham Borough, he said, had the shortest limit by far, which can even affect people who are downtown just to eat.

“Just the other day, I went to lunch at Café Beethoven,” Councilwoman Victoria Fife said. “After an hour, I had to run out to move my car. The 90 minutes seems to make sense.”

Fife cited a study that had been done in Morristown that found 90 minutes was the “absolute right time.”

Mayor Bruce Harris advised emailing the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce to assess its feedback on extending the parking limit before the council drafts an ordinance to make the change.

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