Concerned that some residents have gamed the system to monopolize parking on neighborhood streets, Morristown officials are reducing the number of permits they will issue per household, and will charge for one-time tags when residents have extra guests.
“The process before was a little bit convoluted… Sadly, some folks were abusing it, at the expense of others who weren’t,” town Clerk Margot Kaye told the council, which voted 6-0 on Tuesday to revamp permits for residents of neighborhoods where street parking is restricted.
Until now, up to six vehicle parking decals have been issued per dwelling unit in these neighborhoods.
That maximum is being reduced to three decals, said Kaye, who is completing her first year on the job.
Each unit also has received three visitor passes, which guests place on their dashboards to avoid $47 fines when parking overnight or exceeding two-hour daytime limits.
But those yellow cardboard passes sometimes were counterfeited, Kaye said. Now, each residence will receive one re-usable visitor parking tag that can be hung from a car’s windshield mirror.
Additional one-time tags may be purchased in $5 bundles of five. These scratch-off tags–valid until 8 o’clock on the morning after the date you scratch off– have been used successfully in Montclair and East Orange, said town Administrator Jillian Barrick.
Special parking arrangements can be made for large events, caretakers or hardships, Barrick said.
Present permits expire on Jan. 15, 2019. New ones may be obtained from the Clerk’s office each year starting on Dec. 15, according to the Morristown Parking Authority.
Enforcement of the new rules won’t start until March 2019, to give officials time to publicize the changes in English and Spanish, and for residents to obtain their new permits and tags, Barrick said.
Councilwoman Alison Deeb abstained from the vote. She later explained that she did not have all the details, and would have preferred more public discussion before the ordinance was adopted.
Deeb also cited residents’ complaints about parking on Western Avenue, where multiple-family homes are creating a crunch. Barrick said the town is working on that problem separately.
Council members Robert Iannaccone and David Silva said they discussed the changes with constituents, who mostly welcomed the measure.
NEW DECK, FREE PARKING, FIRE CONTRACT, POWER LINES
In other parking-related news, Iannaccone said plans are proceeding methodically for a five-story parking deck in Municipal Lot 10, behind the Morristown Post Office.
He praised the slow pace, explaining that difficult questions must be addressed concerning traffic flow and how to minimize disruptions to members of the Wilmot Business Association during construction.
Planners also are studying how to preserve public space for the Morristown Farmers Market, which operates in Lot 10 during warm weather months, said Iannaccone, council liaison to the Morristown Parking Authority. The proposed garage is intended to serve the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
Iannaccone also announced that the parking authority’s annual free parking period will run from Dec. 12-24, 2018. Parking meters will be covered with bags, to encourage holiday shopping downtown.
A four-year contract with Morristown firefighters also was approved unanimously on Tuesday. The contract adds a ninth step to the pay scale; that step will see 1.75 percent pay increases for each year of the pact, Barrick said. Increases vary for other steps, she said.
Additionally, the council introduced an ordinance that would require underground placement of electrical lines for all new construction, at the developer’s cost.
Jersey Central Power & Light still must weigh in on the measure’s feasibility, according to Mayor Tim Dougherty, whose administration proposed the move.
Dougherty said it’s intended to minimize storm-related service disruptions, and eyesores such as the cluttered wiring outside the Fox Rothschild building.
That triangular structure was pitched as an architecturally significant gateway to Morristown. But its aesthetics are marred by utility poles and power lines.