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Waynesboro parking rules advance

December 04, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Proponents of revised parking regulations filled the Waynesboro Borough Council's chambers on Wednesday to hear the unanimous vote that pushed the rules one step closer to implementation.

The changes would allow new downtown businesses to have fewer parking spaces than required now, meaning, some say, that it will be easier to open restaurants.

The council will hold a public hearing on Jan. 21 before taking a final vote on the new regulations.

"The only way you can currently meet the ordinance is to buy two buildings and knock one down, which destroys your downtown. We're trying to restore it," said Bruce Dreisbach, manager of the nonprofit organization Main Street Waynesboro Inc.

The main change to the ordinance occurs in the section dedicated to off-street parking in the Town Center District. Rather than saying that municipal boards "shall" consider a new business's number of employees and customers when granting approvals, they now "may" consider those factors.

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"A lot of (potential) businesses would come into town and say, 'I'm not going to consider it because of the parking ordinance,'" Council President Craig Newcomer said.

Dreisbach said that rather than focus so much on off-street parking, businesses will be better positioned to show the borough they can take advantage of metered spaces.

"Eighty percent of our metered parking is vacant during the business day," Dreisbach said. "We've done studies."

New regulations would only affect existing structures, Dreisbach said.

"Our hope is by this change, we'll fill the existing buildings and not have developers come in and knock down 100-year-old buildings," he said, saying that downtown has lost 50 hard-to-replace businesses with high foot traffic since the 1980s.

Asked why developers have not yet knocked down historic buildings to create parking, Dreisbach said the downtown just hasn't been economically desirable enough. That, he said, is because of not having the foot traffic already in place.

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