It’s Mailman 1, Borough 0 in the first test of a new Red Bank ordinance that restricts parking on Hudson Avenue to residents.
Municipal Judge William Himelman appeared to let the air out of the tires on the month-old law last Thursday when he dismissed a ticket issued to postal worker Tai Truong, citing an argument by Truong’s lawyer that the ordinance was unconstitutional.
At least that’s the interpretation of lawyer Bill McCarter, who was so irate when he heard about the ordinance that he took on Truong’s case pro bono.
McCarter and others present at the court hearing say Himelman offered no explanation for his dismissal of the ticket, other than to cite a three-page letter McCarter had submitted to the court.
In that letter, McCarter argued that “there is no state legislation authorizing municipalities to enact ‘resident parking only’ zones” except to designate parking spaces for handicapped residents in front of their homes.
Red Bank’s ordinance, he says, also violates state law because it serves the interests of an “arbitrary class” of individuals or what he characterized to redbankgreen as “a bunch of noisy neighbors” who had complained that postal workers were occupying the spaces in front of their homes all day.
“That ordinance is shot through with so many holes, I don’t know where to start,” McCarter says.
In aftermath of the court win, McCarter wrote this to Mayor Pasquale Menna:
Parking is and always has been abundant on Hudson Avenue. Postal workers intend to continue parking there. The court has determined that the purported restriction is invalid. I would appreciate confirmation from your office that the parking department will desist from issuing summonses for parking in supposed Resident Parking Only zones, and that the offending signs will be removed.
McCarter also says in the letter that he understands Himelman tossed a Hudson Avenue ticket against Susan Kohn, another postal worker, but wasn’t present when the case was heard.
What effect Himelman’s ruling might have in the long run is an open question. But it’s not likely to bring together homeowners and postal employees who work out of the Broad Street facility. In recent years, amid complaints about blocked driveways and long-staying cars, local officials have enacted parking restrictions on South Street, Branch Avenue and East Bergen Place.
The Himelman decision also comes at a time when borough officials appeared to be readying an expansion of the residents-only concept to South Street. There, the residents-only prohibition is in effect only from 7a to 11a, and even that is regularly ignored by postal workers, residents say.
Homeowner Mike Tierney told redbankgreen last week that he’d lobbied both Menna and Councilman Art Murphy for all-day residents-only ordinance, “and they told me they’d take care of it,” he said.
We just spoke to Menna, who says he hasn’t seen McCarter’s letter. But he acknowledges that he’s offered to get behind Tierney’s request. “Our response is that if that’s what the neighborhood wants, we will do so.”
But no measures to extend resident parking are in the works for consideration by the council at present, he adds.
Here’s the ordinance that McCarter challenges: Download hudson_permits.pdf