By Al Dozier
Opposition to Irmo’s ban on front-yard parking continued Tuesday as a group of citizens identified as People Against Dictators (PAD) attempted to seek a compromise from the Irmo Town Council.
The council adopted the parking ban at its last meeting despite an outpouring of opposition by citizens who described the measure as government overreach. Opponents say many residents don’t have the space to accommodate additional driveway space.
The measure was designed to prevent an increasing practice by residents of parking their cars in their yards instead of designated driveways. The practice is seen as an eyesore by supporters of the measure. They say it is decreasing property values.
Despite the contentious name adopted by the PAD group, spokeswoman Gloria Jordon of Friarsgate attempted to show a conciliatory tone, acknowledging the need for changes to improve the community.
“We agree Irmo is not what it used to be,” she told the council. She said the group is not opposed to “improving our community.”
But she said the town should acknowledge that there is a deficiency in parking availability in many residential areas. The new ordinance is imposing hardships on many people and some have decided to sell their homes, she said.
PAD proposed an amendment which would modify the restriction on front yard parking to a 5 by 7-foot area directly in front of homes. The amendment would also provide accommodations for pre-existing concrete surfaces. The measure calls for accommodations for the disabled and for exceptions to be made in special circumstances at the direction of the Irmo Town Council.
The current measure prohibits yard parking but it allows residents to park in a designated parking spot that is paved or graveled. The parking spot could be set up with pine needles.
The ordinance also allows residents with special issues to consult with the town administrator, who could allow an exemption. The measure also permits limited-time yard parking for special family events.
The current measure includes a “grace period” which allows residents to make necessary changes during the next six months.
Councilwoman Kathy Condom and Councilman Barry Walker Sr. supported the proposed amendment but Mayor Hardy King said the current measure already has provisions that address the concerns expressed by PAD. He said the current ordinance has been well received.
The proposed amendment failed by a 3 to 2 vote.
In other action, the council rejected a proposal by a marketing firm identified as www.getporchd to promote properties in Irmo through a web presentation that provides input from the community about homes and real estate.
Mayor Hardy King backed the proposal as a positive promotion of the Irmo area that would not cost the town anything, but other council members said an outside, for-profit marketing firm should not have access to the town’s website.
The council rejected on third reading an amendment to the Irmo Town Code on unsightly, unsanitary conditions. During the public comment period, Irmo resident George Glassmayer criticized the measure because it exempted residents who live in subdivisions.
“Let’s not treat people differently,” he said.
The council gave final approval to an ordinance that requires land developers to pay for required future improvements on new residential projects. The measure is designed to protect the town from having to pay for completion of projects considered the responsibility of the developer.