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Published: Tuesday, 7/28/2009

Mayoral hopeful proposes repeal of Toledo parking code

BY NEENA SATIJA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Collins Collins
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Councilman and mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins is trying to make sure the city's recent ticketing of residents for parking on private gravel surfaces doesn't happen again.

Flanked by Councilmen George Sarantou and Tom Waniewski, Mr. Collins announced a proposal yesterday to repeal a Toledo Municipal Code provision that deals with parking and standing violations.

The provision has been an issue since Susan Frederick, a commissioner of Toledo's Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor, issued tickets to seven residents June 11 for parking on gravel or stone-covered surfaces on their properties.

Mr. Collins called the ticketing "a lack of good judgment." "It's overreaching governmental authority," he said. "It's counter to what we want Toledo to be."

He said the new section that he is proposing would restore to residents with gravel driveways the right to park on them.

Right now the code says it is illegal to stand or park on any unpaved section of a front lot, side lot, or vacant lot in any residential district. The new language says that it is legal to park on unpaved driveways that are "a prior nonconforming use of the property."

Mr. Collins said the language effectively grandfathered in properties that were constructed before being annexed into the city of Toledo and being subject to city laws.

Shelly Cousino, who was among those ticketed on July 11, said that she would be glad to see the law changed. "I would be extremely happy, because I don't wish that anyone else would have to go through this ordeal," she said.

But Bob Mossing, the city's manager of code enforcement, said that the new section was no different from the current one.

"As far as I'm concerned, they were grandfathered in the first place," he said of the properties of ticketed residents. "It doesn't really change how something like code enforcement does business."

He added that the new code applied to driveways, and that the residents had been ticketed for parking on "gravel pads," which he said were not driveways.

Mr. Collins countered that city Law Director Adam Loukx wrote the language for the new ordinance. "I would say that the lawyer who wrote it knows what he's writing about."

As to what constitutes a driveway, Charles Robertson, a resident who was also ticketed, said that he was clearly parked in a driveway.

"What I was parked in, it's been a part of my driveway for the last 43 years," he said. "It was part of the driveway before we bought the house."

Mr. Collins will propose the new rule Tuesday at city council's agenda review meeting. It needs seven votes for approval and, if it passes, would take effect 30 days after a vote.

In the meantime, Mrs. Cousino said residents are in legal limbo.

"We still use our driveways and our turnarounds not knowing if we are law-abiding or not," she said.

She also said she felt Ms. Frederick's enforcement privileges should be removed or that they should require special certification. "She may be a lawyer, but she's not a police officer."

Mr. Collins said that he would not consider scaling down the powers of Ms. Frederick and that it is vital for commissioners to have enforcement powers like ticketing.

Asked whether he thought Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who has fiercely defended Ms. Frederick for the ticketing, would veto the new law, Mr. Collins said he couldn't speculate. "The mayor is the mayor," he said.

Through his spokesman, Mr. Finkbeiner declined to comment yesterday.

Contact Neena Satija at:

nsatija@theblade.com

or 419-724-6272.



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