The Washington Traffic Commission expressed concerns over a request to cut the curb on Elm Street and eliminate some on-street parking.
Noreen Baker requested the city modify Elm Street parking as part of her plans to purchase the old Hallmark building in the 100 block of Elm Street. Baker told the commission she wanted to do a curb cut to use part of the building as a garage.
Baker said if the purchase of the building goes through, she wants to relocate The Pot Shop from Hillermann Nursery & Florist in part of the building and use some space as a residence for herself and her older mother. She said the garage would allow her mother easy access to the building.
To make room for the garage, the curb would have to be cut to make a driveway. To cut the curb, at least one street parking spot would have to be eliminated.
Depending on the width of the driving lane, and how the street would have to be repainted, Director of Public Services John Nilges said it’s more likely at least two street parking spots would be removed.
Police Chief Ed Menefee pointed out the potential to set a bad precedent. He said the city does not guarantee parking spots for Downtown residents.
Sal Maniaci, Washington community and economic development director, said the garage door itself would have to be reviewed by the city’s historical preservation board because Elm Street is in a historic district.
Nilges said the curb cut is of greater concern. City code allows for trucks to park in the middle of streets Downtown to load and unload. If Baker wanted to use the door for deliveries, without a curb cut, it could work.
The issue, Nilges said, was a car driving up on the curb. He pointed out that Elm is a dense street that is usually packed with cars. Making sure there’s enough room to maneuver a car in and out would be tricky, if not impossible.
Menefee said it would be potentially dangerous for pedestrians walking along Elm Street.
In addition to the logistics of parking a car, the commission expressed concerns with giving up parking spots. Spots are limited in the Downtown area and the commission has requests for more, not fewer.
Ultimately the commission decided it wasn’t entirely their decision to make. Nilges said he felt like the best course of action would be to have the city’s planning and zoning commission review the request and the city council make the final vote.
Baker said her contract to purchase the building was contingent on getting the curb cut. She said she had until Jan. 17 to get it approved.
The commission considered expediting things and putting the request on the agenda for the Jan. 8 planning and zoning meeting, and the Jan. 16 historic preservation and city council meetings.
Ultimately, the commission was concerned that would make things too rushed. Maniaci said it would be difficult for the council to reach a decision if the historic group hears the request on the same night.
The commission agreed to follow normal procedure and put the request on the February planning and zoning agenda first. It would send along its thoughts and concerns and let that board review the request.