Handicapped parking sought along Jeannette's Clay Avenue
City Council has received several requests from Clay Avenue business owners requesting a handicapped parking space in front of their storefronts after one business was granted casual approval for a few spots.
Mayor Richard Jacobelli explained to council Monday night that the owners of Bella Mimi's Restaurant asked him for permission to paint lines and establish handicapped spots near their business. Jacobelli said he told the owners it would be okay and to submit a letter requesting the parking spaces to council.
In the meantime, Jacobelli said, the lines were painted and spaces earmarked for handicapped parking before council received the letter of request and that has led to several other businesses along Clay Avenue requesting handicapped spaces in front of their businesses as well.
“There are some rumblings in the community that they are upset the spots were being handed out,” said Jacobelli. “I told them to put in a letter of request for handicapped spots. If anyone is worried about these spots, these businesses are putting in a lot of money into the community and we should consider this.”
City Solicitor Scott Avolio said he had first learned of the issue Monday night and he believes there is an ordinance governing how handicapped spaces are established.
“There should be discussion on how the city wants to proceed with approving spots,” Avolio said. “First we should review the ordinance and then contemplate a plan for spots, including if there is an annual fee associated with handicapped spaces.”
Councilman Mark Levander said many handicapped spaces are on side streets where there is access to a ramp and that putting a spot in front of a business without access to such ramps would defeat the purpose of providing those with physical limitations easier access to businesses.
Councilman Bill Bedont said his concern was that if the city begins to add several handicapped spaces along Clay Avenue, all of the businesses will petition to have spots added near their storefronts. This week, council has received letters of request from Cristiano's Pizza, Qua Spa, The Nest and Bella Mimi's Restaurant.
“I guess it caused a bit of a problem,” said Jacobelli.
As it stands, the only handicapped spot on the avenue is near Mama G's Restaurant in the 400 block. Jacobelli said his concern moving forward is a general plan to increase handicapped spaces along the avenue.
The mayor said the requests council has received so far will be addressed after the ordinance is reviewed and council has determined a proper plan moving forward.
Jacobelli said he plans to address all of the business owners who have made requests personally to inform them of the plan.
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-838-5154.