By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Parking will now be more expensive in Fair Haven for expanding stores, restaurants and other enterprises.
The borough council unanimously passed an ordinance last night to create a parking fund. Businesses seeking planning board approval for expansion plans will have to pay the borough $2,500 for each parking space required under municipal law that the business does not provide.
That penalty can be appealed to the borough council, and the “council will decide whether it’s fair or not,” said Mayor Mike Halfacre.
That’s a bargain, added Council President Tom Gilmour, compared to what businesses pay elsewhere.
“Most downtowns have [a parking fund],” said Halfacre.
He added said the money won’t wind up in the general fund for borough expenses, and is intended only, or “expressly,” in the wording of the ordinance, for a parking fund for “installing, replacing or repairing” public parking.
“The fund will allow the borough to better maintain its public parking spaces,” Halfacre said.
That was not enough assurance for resident Ruth Blaser, who asked that the word “solely” be added before “expressly.”
“I don’t want the money going into the general fund,” she said.
Red Bank also charges applicants $2,500 per space not otherwise provided. But the application of the law is controversial in Red Bank see redbankgreen on a recent matter involving Buona Sera Ristorante. Halfacre says he does not anticipate similar issues to arise.
“Its apples and oranges,” he says. “Our economies are much different. And we’re going to apply it fairly. In Red Bank, they don’t seem to enforce their law. They negotiate.”
At least one detail of the ordinance caught a member of the planning board off guard.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this number,” said James Ingle, who asked when the fees would be levied. He was told only upon new applications to the board.
“It’s a one shot contribution to the parking fund” by an applicant, Halfacre said. A person starting a new business that has more intensive needs for parking than a prior owner or tenant of the same building will pay more, but not if the business is the same type that was there before, he added.
Ingle said the Planning Board would discuss the new law at its next meeting.