The thorny issue of tree lawn parking in Ravenna will be back before council next year, with lower fees.
Councilman Jack Ferguson, chairman of council's streets, sidewalks and utilities committee, said Monday he has several suggestions on how to lower the fee and make the proposal more palatable to residents, who opposed it at a recent public hearing.
The proposed ordinance would institute fees for making the application and getting permits from the city. All told, that's almost $300 for the first year, not including the cost of improving the tree lawn with asphalt or concrete. The fees would include $100 for the application, plus $180 a year for up to three parking passes from the city's police department.
It is now illegal for residents to park on the tree lawn and over the years, many have turned those areas into makeshift parking areas, especially if they do not have driveways.
Ferguson said he favors an application fee, but thinks $100 is way too high, and suggested lowering the application fee to $25. He said residents should be required to re-apply annually, because living situations change from year to year.
He said he doesn't favor the parking passes or the $180 fee, and said gravel should be just as good to improve the tree lawns as asphalt or concrete. In fact, he said, it might be better, since a gravel improvement would absorb rainwater and not cause as much runoff.
"I think everybody was under the impression this was the way it had to be," Ferguson said. "It's just for discussion. There had to be a starting point."
City officials agreed to discuss potential changes and bring a new proposal to the committee in January.
Service Director Kelly Engelhart pointed out that part of the goal of the ordinance was to find out whether the request was being made out of "convenience or necessity."
"We understand there are situations where it is necessary," she said.
She added that Law Director Frank Cimino was not in favor of a new policy, but merely one that "legitimized" situations where people had been parking on tree lawns in the past. New cases might not be permitted under such a policy.
Some council members questioned whether residents who try to do the right thing might be penalized while those who had been violating the city's ordinance for years might be rewarded.
"We're not going to please everyone," Ferguson said. "But we have to start somewhere."
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