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Norris parking vote delayed

After hearing the concerns of some city residents about a proposed new ordinance to strictly limit on-street parking in Norris, the City Council on Monday night decided to table the measure for further study.

The council had passed the measure on first reading during a special meeting Oct. 24, and was to consider approving it on second and final reading Monday, after a public hearing.

But during the hearing, several residents on affected streets complained that they would have nowhere to park near their homes if the ordinance took effect.

Councilman Will Grinder pushed for the delay, and was joined by other council members.

The council decided to hold a workshop on the ordinance at 6 p.m. Dec. 6, then bring it back up for a second public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11, just before the regular December council meeting at 6 p.m. – during which the measure will again be considered on second and final reading.

“I personally feel the ordinance needs work,” Grinder said. “I’m not ready to support it. I think it needs to be modified a little bit, maybe add overnight parking.”

Resident Frances Oates told the council that she has nowhere to park at her home except on the street, and her street is among those where no parking would be allowed.

“I will not be able to build a parking space without butchering my yard,” she said.

To help maintain traffic flow and give emergency vehicles ready access to residences, the measure was proposed by the police chief.

As now written, it would amend the Norris Municipal Code to prohibit parking “On all city streets except Hickory Trail, Hawthorne Place, Hickory Place, Ridgeway Court and Chestnut Drive.”

There are some narrow exceptions, according to the ordinance as now written:

“This prohibition shall not apply to drivers of delivery vehicles when actively making deliveries and off-street parking is unavailable, provided that such parking is not in violation of any other part of this code and so long as the parked delivery vehicle has flashing lights, is visible from a distance of 200 feet in each direction, and maintains at least 12 feet of clearance in the roadway.

“Nor shall this prohibition apply to emergency services, city employees acting in their official duties, or anyone performing official duties on behalf of the city.”

Assistant City Manager Bailey Whited presented the ordinance to the council Oct. 24, and detailed how the police department had been measuring clearances on streets where people have routinely been parking, and noted that in many cases parked vehicles were leaving less than 12 feet open – which is the minimum required for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.

On-street parking already is prohibited on busy through-streets such as East and West Norris roads, Reservoir Road and Dairy Pond Road. But even that restriction is sometimes ignored.

Butternut Road resident George Miceli told the council that he believes there should be an exemption for people parking cars on the road when someone is having a party.

In other business Monday night, the council:

• Approved on first reading an ordinance that would make it permanent for the five-person City Council to serve also as the Norris Water Commission, which it has been doing since all of the previous commission members resigned in May.

Once a highly contentious idea that was fought by a group led by some of the former water commissioners, the move saw no opposition on Monday night, except from Councilman Will Grinder, who has opposed the idea from the start.

“I don’t support it being a permanent thing,” Grinder said.

Still, he voted in favor of the ordinance, which passed unanimously, 5-0.

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 11, prior to the 6 p.m. regular council meeting, where the measure will be considered for second and final reading.

City Waterworks Superintendent Tony Wilkerson said he supports the measure, which he believes would help maintain stability for the Water Commission as the city deals with a state mandate to make millions of dollars in improvements to the city sewer system to eliminate environmental issues.

• Tabled an ordinance that would further regulate door-to-door peddlers and other outside salespeople operating within the city, including requiring city permits and some background checks.

Some residents attending Monday’s meeting suggested that rather that giving solicitors permits to sell door-to-door, such sales should be prohibited outright in the city, with a few exceptions.

• Approved a $10,000 appropriation for completion of amenities in the Norris Creamery Park, which is along East Norris Road near Andersonville Highway.

• Passed a resolution updating the duties of the assistant city manager, Bailey Whited, to include the role of director of the Norris Recreation Department.

• Delayed until a special council meeting at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20, approval of an ordinance on first reading that would set a new policy for forgiveness or discounts to residents for water and sewer fees that result from leaks in water lines.

The council decided to have the Water Commission approve the measure first, during its meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 20. The council and water commissioners are the same five people, but duties of the two boards are separate.

• Heard from Mayor Chris Mitchell that he believes there should be a chamber of commerce established in Norris, and that the city should contribute up to $2,000 to help set it up.

It would have to be independent of the city government, however, the mayor noted.