Council sets fees for parking shortfalls

Nonresidential projects would pay into dedicated fund


FAIR HAVEN – The Borough Council adopted an amendment creating a parking fund at the Jan. 28 council meeting.


he amendment to an existing ordinance

calls for a payment of $2,500 per parking space to be made by developers of nonresidential projects whose projects do not meet the parking requirements for the specific business.

“When [an applicant] comes to the Planning Board to open a business in town, our ordinance requires a certain number of parking spaces depending on the type of business and the square footage size,” Mayor Michael Halfacre explained at the meeting. “Many downtowns have this, most towns have this.”

The amendment calls for the payment to be made prior to issuance of a building permit and would be deposited by the borough into a dedicated account for the express purpose of “installing, replacing or repairing parking spaces or parking lots.”

In addition, the amendment allows for any applicant “who feels aggrieved” by the payment to have the opportunity to appeal to the borough for relief.

“It does not mean that we’re going to hit every business with $2,500 for every parking space,” Halfacre said. “What it means is that if a business doesn’t have enough parking … that costs the borough money in the long run.

“So this will create a parking fund to allow the borough to better maintain public parking spaces that it has to maintain to alleviate the burden on businesses that don’t have enough parking spaces.”

During public comment on the amendment to the ordinance, Ruth Blaser of River Road expressed doubts regarding the relevance of the new rules in light of the borough’s lack of space for development.

“The borough of Fair Haven is finite, it doesn’t have any more room,” Blaser said. “If one owner pays $2,500 dollars per parking space and then sells the building, does the new owner again have to pay the $2,500 per parking space?”

“Only if they come before the Planning Board with a different type of business with a more labor intensive use,” Halfacre responded.

An example Halfacre used was that if an existing doctor’s office requiring five spaces closed and was replaced by a nail salon that would require 10 spaces.

Another resident wanted to know if the $2,500 would be a “one-shot fine.”

“It’s not a fine,” Halfacre responded. “It’s a one-shot contribution to a parking trust fund.”

James Ingle, a member of the borough Planning Board, asked if there would be “retroactivity” in the assessment of the payment.

“The only time this $2,500 would be assessed is when someone comes before the Planning Board and asks something?” Ingle asked. “It’s only for new variances or waivers requested at the Planning Board?”

“That’s correct,” Halfacre replied.

Before approving the amendment, one council member commented that the $2,500 payment was “cheap” compared to the price of a parking space in many other towns.

The establishment of the parking fund follows in the wake of the Project for Public Spaces report that was discussed at the December council meeting which called for consolidating and reallocating parking in the downtown area.