Township commissioners introduce a new ordinance offering flexibility for businesses that lack onsite parking.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 5, 2017
Haddon Township is making a small, business-friendly change to its parking regulations that officials hope will help prospective tenants of its central shopping district.
Local code requires businesses to meet minimum off-street parking requirements that typically outstrip the number of available spaces on their properties
The new regulations now allow businesses to satisfy those requirements at any place within 300 feet of their property; approximately the length of one municipal block. They also require that the availability of such parking, onsite or otherwise, be identified during site plan approval.
“Some of the restaurant owners are entering into leases with other business owners to fulfill their parking requirements,” said Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague. “We decided to create a distance requirement.”
Teague said the measure was recommended by the township planning board, and the 300-foot radius by township engineer Greg Fusco.
“There’s so many other commercial entities that are on the avenue that have vacant lots,” the mayor said. “Hopefully businesses can take advantage [of them].”
Teague said the ordinance could “encourage more brokering of deals” that have already been struck by more than a few businesses in the downtown district.
One such arrangement already has worked out well for Westmont ACE Hardware and the PJW Restaurant Group.
Bill Getzinger, who owns both ACE Hardware and the lot across the street from it at Conroy’s Corner, has a deal to provide parking for The Pour House next door.
The two discussed a similar arrangement for after-hours use of the ACE lot as well, but Getzinger said concerns about his outdoor inventory scuttled the deal.
In a nod to typical parking arrangements in South Philadelphia, “we joked about putting someone out there with a lawn chair” to supervise the lot, he said.
The deal has been mutually beneficial, supporting patrons of the bar while helping offset his cost of owning the lot, Getzinger said. He hopes other businesses in the community can use the new rules to come to similar agreements as needed.
“It’s a good idea,” Getzinger said. “That’s going to help small businesses that don’t have parking. It would be great to keep customers off side streets.”
John Sandone, co-owner of The Irish Mile, said the ordinance is a good start, but believes more comprehensive parking changes are necessary in the township. Sandone has battled with the Port Authority Transit Company (PATCO) over his customers parking in the PATCO lot adjacent to his property. He’d like the agency to relax its stance on off-hours use of its lots.
“They have a very valuable asset in their parking lot, and they should take the lead in seeing how they can partner with our communities,” Sandone said.
“These towns are built up,” he said. “They can’t tear up buildings to make parking.
“When DRPA did purchase the ground, they did tear down buildings, they did take private property, and they did make parking lots.”
In the meantime, Sandone said, relaxing—or eliminating altogether—parking requirements for local businesses is an overdue change, as downtown shopping districts are increasingly dependent upon customers who use a variety of transportation options.
“People walk, they ride their bikes, they take Uber and Lyft,” he said. “They don’t need to park their car at the local bar and sit there. Haddon Township is following Collingswood and Haddonfield in hopefully moving towards [relaxing]parking restrictions.”
Teague agreed that the township has more work to do on the parking issue. The commissioners are still considering a planning board recommendation to eliminate parking requirements altogether for businesses smaller than 1,000 square-feet. After adding more metered spaces to Haddon Avenue last year, the mayor said the local government realized the fix outlined in the new ordinance could have an immediate impact.
“We wanted to do this now,” he said.
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