Residents of what has, historically, been a quiet street in Brick Township came to Tuesday night’s township council meeting to voice their opposition to an ordinance that would ban on-street parking on their street.
The residents of Davos Road, off Princeton Avenue, also have a popular neighbor: the Windward Tavern bar and restaurant. But the restaurant isn’t, in and of itself, the source of the proposed parking prohibition. Township officials said the street first appeared on their radar after an ambulance essentially became “stuck” on the narrow roadway while attempting to transport a resident to the hospital. Engineers studied the street and determined it was simply too narrow for certain emergency vehicles to turn around when cars are parked on either side, and recommended prohibiting parking.
Township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin said it was expected that another review from the township’s Bureau of Fire Prevention would yield a final recommendation of prohibiting parking on one side of the street, but the calculations called for a total parking ban. The group of residents assembled at Tuesday’s meeting strong disagreed.
“If I went to go buy a home and they told me I couldn’t park on the road, I probably wouldn’t buy it,” said one resident, suggesting the township seek alternatives, including resident parking permits.
“I’ve been here 46 years on that street,” said resident Gary Saarloos. “We’ve never had any problems with the parking. I have my son and grandson living with me, and they each have a car. Where are they supposed to put their cars? Do I have to spend $3,000 or $4,000 for a new driveway?”
Saarloos said the only alternative he could imagine would be parking cars on his front lawn, a last-ditch option since he’s paid for landscaping. Bergin said parking cars on one’s lawn is, itself, a code violation.
Other residents placed the blame on live events at the Windward Tavern and activities that take place at nearby Windward Beach Park, both of which they say draws nonresidents to park on their street.
“A fire truck had a problem getting down the street because of excess parking from the restaurant and the size of the street,” said resident Cara Kellner. “Some of our residents only have single driveways. On a normal night there are two or three cars on the street. The problem is that when the restaurant has entertainment, or there is an event at the park, it has an impact on our street.”
Yet another resident blamed the lack of room on the presence of a large tree that they say is located on township-owned property and could be removed to make more space.
To be clear, neither the restaurant nor those who run events at the park requested the ordinance. Bergin said after the meeting that the township has a legal duty to ensure that emergency vehicles can clear a turn on the street in order to serve residents. The street, whenever it was built, was constructed to odd specifications. It begins at a standard width of about 29-feet, but gradually scales down to 21-feet. By the end, in a scenario where cars are parked on the road, a vehicle such as a large ambulance or fire truck cannot position itself.
The residents’ concerns was heard by the township council, however there were no immediate solutions or offers of compromise, largely due to the fact that the township has identified the problem and cannot legally allow it to continue unabated. Bergin said if homes on the street were built today, they most likely would be required to install larger driveways that could accommodate additional vehicles.
Another resident said the Windward Tavern can produce up to 20 to 30 cars parked on the street on certain nights when entertainment is offered and the restaurant’s outdoor section is crowded. If ‘no parking’ rules were enforced for restaurant patrons, he said, residents would only occupy two or three spaces in total on a given night.
Being a public street, however, implementing such rules would be difficult, officials said. Brick does not currently utilize resident parking permits on municipal streets – only in some developments with private roads that are administered internally.
Bergin did say she would bring the concerns of the residents to the township’s fire and code officials to see if there were any alternatives to an outright ban on parking.
The ordinance will be subject to a public hearing and second vote before it is finally passed at the Oct. 11 council meeting.