Bel Air to end residential permit parking on some streets near high school

Bel Air town officials plan to remove residential preferred parking along several streets in the vicinity of Bel Air High School because there's no longer a parking crisis in the neighborhood.

Resolution 1013-13 was introduced July 15 at the most recent town meeting to eliminate "parking by permit only" in five areas near the high school, in the Homestead Village neighborhood.

According to information presented by town staff during the meeting, the spillover of students from the high school parking on residential streets was all but eliminated with the construction of a larger parking lot in conjunction with the new high school building that opened in the summer of 2009.

The town solicited opinions from residents in the affected area, Director of Administration Michael Krantz said, and "only a small percentage expressed a preference for it to continue."

Prior to the meeting, Town Commissioner Robert Preston said the parking overflow problem from the school is no longer an issue, although he said a few people who did respond to the town's inquiry "would like to keep their permits."

The areas where the town plans to end permit parking during the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days are:

• East and west sides of Hunter Drive from Linwood Avenue to South Shamrock Road;

• North and south sides of the 300 block of Linwood Avenue from Giles Street to South Shamrock;

• East and west sides of the 400 block of Linwood Avenue from South Shamrock Road to Linwood Garth;

• East and west sides of Linwood Court; and

• North and south sides of South Shamrock Road for 620 feet south of the intersection with Linwood Avenue.

Several other streets nearer to the high school will continue to have permit parking only during school days and hours, including Homestead Street, Idlewild Road, Idlewild Street, Kenmore Avenue and Maitland Street.

The Board of Town Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the resolution on Aug. 12 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.

Police supplemental pay

The town board also voted at the July 15 meeting to amend personnel policy to pay police officers and dispatchers who are called in for emergency duty for a minimum of three hours, if the assignment is canceled.

Krantz explained there are extraordinary circumstances, such as during Hurricane Sandy last fall, where additional officers and dispatchers might be called in when they are off-duty. Such calls can cause the affected personnel to incur unplanned expenses such as for child care, he said, even if the call is later canceled.

The three-hour minimum pay will be granted, if the call is canceled without 12 hours prior notice. Commissioner Rob Reier noted such emergencies are uncommon, maybe once in a decade.

Grant resolution approved

The town commissioners also approved a resolution enabling the town to seek a $200,000 state Community Legacy Grant for the third phase of the Armory Marketplace Project, restoration of the garages behind the armory into small business spaces.

Phase III will include interior renovations, replacement of the garage doors and construction of exterior retaining wills, Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich explained.

The town received a $175,000 Community Legacy Grant last fall for Phase II, which includes infrastructure improvements and replacement of the floors in the block buildings that were constructed in the 1950s. The town also received a state grant for the Phase I feasibility study.

The town plans to use the garages as temporary incubator spaces to encourage small business start-ups that could eventually more into permanent locations on Main or Bond streets or other downtown Bel Air locations. In the past, Heidenreich has said the spaces could be used for such activities as artist studios and galleries, individual retail shops and service businesses. There also has been talk about holding a farmers market in the courtyard between the garages and the armory, which is still under consideration.

The town will also be seeking a grant for Phase IV of the project which will include landscaping and exterior lighting, Heidenreich said.

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