Parking lot rights a point of contention at town meeting

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:29

    SPARTA — The dispute over the use of the parking lot at Homer’s Restaurant came in front of the board at the Sept. 13 Town Meeting in Sparta where Homer’s owner Donna Wainio, and former council member Mike Speckhardt weighed in on opposite sides of the issue. The intention of the original agreement was to create a shared parking lot at 18 Sparta Avenue for Homer’s Restaurant customers and 2-hour public parking Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. According to that agreement, the Township of Sparta and 18 Sparta Ave., LLC are both owners of the lot and have a shared agreement for the parking spaces built. The lot is adjacent to Ungerman Field where sporting events take place and would be advantageous to the public for its convenient use, as well as allowing customers and employees to park in the spaces provided. Speckhardt presented numerous photographs, documentation and a copy of ordinance 09-33, which is the authorization of the application for the parking lot by 18 Sparta Ave., LLC and the Township of Sparta including the use of the driveway and parking lot for motor vehicles. He alleged the owners of Homer’s Restaurant are restricting parking lot access to the public. On Sept. 2, he filed a police report against the restaurant on the basis that municipal property had been stolen and was civil rights violations. The municipal property referred to were the signs stating the 2-hour parking limit. Donna Wainio responded by saying kids were swinging on the signs and the Road Department had removed them because they were a safety hazard. But signs saying the spaces were for Homers’ patrons only appeared. When reached for further comment, Wainio declined to speak on the issue. But the Homer’s signs had been removed. “We aren’t going to ignore the issue, we will address the issue,” said Mayor Gerard Murphy at the meeting. “Give us 30 days and we will see what we can come up with.” Latest update At the council meeting this week, Spekhardt again presented his concerns, saying that as of Tuesday, the restaurant had put back their own signs stating parking in the lot adjacent to Homer’s is for their patrons only. He cited the original agreement. He called the act, “a blatant disregard for the law”. He said if the council allows this to continue they are showing, “a blatant disregard for upholding the law.” Spekhardt said at the meeting two weeks ago, that the restaurant owner told police she had authorization from Mayor Jerry Murphy to remove the township signs from her parking lot. Murphy said the statement was taken out of context. Spekhardt asked Murphy again at this week’s meeting if he had authorized the removal of the township signs. Murphy said he did not give permission. Spekhardt said then the restaurant owner had given false information to a uniformed police officer, which is documented in the police report. Murphy said the matter is being looked into and, “It won’t be swept under the carpet.” Spekhardt asked if anyone from the township had asked the restaurant owners to cease and desist, and Murphy said they hadn’t. Township Manger David Troast said the original township signs allowing for public parking have been located and will be put back up. According to agreement made on June 26, 2007, both parties agreed to the following: “The Township of Sparta grants to 18 Sparta Ave., LLC a parking and access easement for the parking spaces numbered 1, 2 ,3, 4 and part of 5 as well as 12, 13, 14, 15 and part of 16 as shown on the site plan prepared by Robert L. Campbell Associates dated January 2006 (Schedule A). This easement does not grant to 18 Sparta Ave., LLC exclusive use of the parking spaces since the spaces will also be available for public parking. 5. All parking spaces enumerated in this agreement (numbers 1-23) shall have limited parking of two hours between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. These restrictions shall not apply to tenants and employees of tenants occupying space at 18 Sparta Ave., LLC. The parking passes shall be limited to a total of six. The Township of Sparta agrees to enforce the parking restrictions as set forth in this paragraph on its property and upon request of 18 Sparta Ave., LLC or future owner of Lots 11 and 12 agrees to enforce the parking restrictions on those parking spaces numbered 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 as well as portions of 5 and 16 owned by 18 Sparta Ave., LLC as shown on the site plan prepared b Robert L. Campbell Associates dated January 2006.