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Senate hears handicapped parking bill

March 24, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS - State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require handicapped parking spaces to be at least as wide as regular parking spaces.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, would prevent handicapped spaces from being made narrower than regular spaces in a new or altered parking lot, and would not force businesses to repave or alter existing lots.

The bill was heard Tuesday by a Senate committee. No action was taken.

Gil House, a member of the Frederick County Commission on Disabilities, said in written testimony that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that accessible parking spaces for persons with disabilities, known as handicapped parking spaces, be 8 feet wide. A 5-foot-wide access aisle also is required.

However, House said regular parking spaces are 9 feet wide, and many other Maryland counties require regular parking spaces to be wider than the dimensions outlined by the ADA.

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"Why shouldn't the person with disabilities who parks in an accessible parking space have the same width as the remaining parking spaces?" House asked in written testimony.

Mooney's bill also was supported by The Freedom Center Inc., which is a center for independent living that serves Carroll and Frederick counties.

Jamey George, executive director of the center, said in written testimony that Mooney's bill would create consistency in parking spaces throughout the state and assist people with disabilities.

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