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Borough council split over parking request

September 21, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Parking concerns have stalled a Maryland man's desire to convert the rear of the former Beck & Benedict Hardware Store on West Main Street to condominiums.

Borough ordinance requires that Craig Mahrle's six condominiums in the back of the building and the four apartments in the front have 20 off-street parking spaces.

Mahrle on Wednesday asked the Waynesboro Borough Council for permission to use the public Rotary parking lot to fulfill that requirement, and the request ultimately split the council and turned to the mayor for a vote. The mayor turned down the motion to grant the request, mainly as an opportunity to revisit the issue next month.

The council's primary concerns dealt with whether the ordinance requires Mahrle to have spaces specifically dedicated to tenants. He merely requested use of the lot without designated spaces.

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"As I'm reading the provision ... I'm reading the language to say assigned parking lot. With the lot full, those particular tenants who thought they had off-street parking are out of luck," Solicitor Melissa Dively said.

Mahrle, who has rented three of the four high-end apartments, plans to sell the town house-style condominiums.

"As a homeowner, I'd be reluctant to purchase a property that didn't guarantee me a parking space," Councilman Jason Stains said.

The entire council said it supports Mahrle's efforts to rehabilitate the building. Some councilmen said the borough might need to consider issuing parking passes.

Several people suggested Mahrle use a spacious basement area for parking, but he said it is not structurally able to do that.

One resident urged the council to develop a better-functioning system to inform perspective residents and businesspeople about borough requirements like parking before they invest in property.

That system will improve when Main Street Waynesboro Inc. hires a downtown manager, promised MaryBeth Hockenberry, treasurer of that nonprofit organization.

Main Street Waynesboro Inc. received 12 applications for the downtown manager position, interviewed five people and has two qualified candidates, organization committee chairman Ernie Brockmann said.

"The successful candidate will be working closely with the Chamber of Commerce for the first two years," he said.

Main Street Waynesboro Inc. obtained $90,000 in pledges from the community to match a state grant to hire the manager.

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