David and Jasmine Costas are having a baby and would love a parking spot in front of their home to load and unload the child. The hassle of finding street parking in Park Hills and carrying diaper bags and groceries along with a baby is enough to cause any couple to find a solution.
Thinking ahead, they applied for an encroachment permit from the city to build a concrete parking pad over the now-designated right-of-way space.
Present with a lawyer at the recent city council meeting, they hoped to get a final answer after months of back-and-forth information exchanging with the city. The Costas argued that there wasn’t a statutory law for the right-of-way claimed by Park Hills.
The front of the home, which is on the 1100 block of Audubon Road and was built around 1930, was not platted, or designated on a development map, for city usage. Only in the rear of the house did the map show reservation for utilities.
City attorney Daniel Braun, however, disputed this. He said a statute wasn’t necessary because the original road actually extends underneath the sidewalk, making it all city property and a right-of-way.
Park Hills was within its right to use the space if needed. In his research, Braun found that back in 1930, the road in question was larger than it is now, at around 50 feet. Over the years, the street was narrowed to build grassy areas and sidewalks.
So while it looks like the road is smaller, its true width extends over the sidewalk and actually butts up right to the couple’s property, giving Park Hills a right-of-way space. And there’s prohibitions in place preventing blockage of rights-of-way for public good and safety reasons.
The issue of granting the permit had been brought by council to the infrastructure committee where too it was seen as not a good idea.
Since the property sits near an intersection, it is important to give enough space around the stop sign. Also, large vehicles like school buses need to be able to make wide turns. Council member Monty O’Hara suggested moving the stop sign back 10-15 feet to give the couple more street space to park.
However, it was noted that this would be a problem because it would shove the stop sign too close to the intersection.
Several council members noted that if they granted this permit, a precedent would be set that would signal to other citizens to expect the same permit if sought. If parking pads become a norm, it could create issues around pedestrian safety, future needs of city greenspace and utility set-up, and a basic “junking up” of the look of the city.
The fact is that there are many such parking pads in Park Hills that were built without the legal permit. In the past 25 years, there had only been one such permit granted.
The couple was honored by the council for doing it the right way. Council expressed sincere regret that they couldn’t help them out at this time.
Mayor Kathy Zembrodt mentioned that unfortunately with a small city and police staff, things do go under radar sometimes. Illegal parking pads are subjected to removal by the city, of course.
Frustrated and disappointed, the young family was left with only suggestions for what the city could possibly do down the road.
Council member Sarah Froelich said that one future possibility would be for the city to study parking issues more thoroughly in Park Hills and to find ways to accommodate citizens’ need for it. Zembrodt commented that many residents bemoan the lack of parking for guests and service workers.