Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pennsylvania township all about compromises

Another truck parking win! Well, kind of. A truck parking compromise is more accurate.

The latest “not bad” news in truck parking comes out of South Whitehall Township in Pennsylvania. According to The Morning Call report, a trucker and South Whitehall resident was approached by city officials last September regarding his tractor-trailer. Essentially, they wanted to ban the truck from parking on the road, citing dangers to a nearby daycare center.

It all began when a city commissioner tried to install a site-specific truck parking ban. Not coincidentally, the site was near his place of work. The commissioner claimed others had complained about the truck, saying the truck blocked the view of the street and could lead to crashes near the daycare center.

However, the ban was denied 3-2. Other city officials were not so quick to add another rule to the book based on a hypothetical concern. Furthermore, city officials were not too crazy about a “piecemeal approach” to the alleged problem. Instead, they opted to devise a better plan.

That brings us to Wednesday, July 20, when the city planner proposed a truck parking area. Rather than implementing a flat-out ban on truck parking, the city is suggesting that an area be reserved for overnight truck parking for residents.

Trucks will be allowed to park overnight in one of the township’s established zones, which are only for residents with a permit, after 7 p.m. No idling will be permitted since the idea here is to let residents park their trucks and sleep in their beds at home. No pricing has been determined as of press time.

It should be noted that this only applies to the tractors, not tractor-trailers, according to Township Planner Gregg Adams. Furthermore, residents are allowed to park their tractors in their driveway – i.e., private property, just not on the street. Proposed permits will allow street-side parking in designated areas if the resident cannot park the tractor on their property. Tractor-trailers will need to find a spot on private property, such as an industrial lot.

According to The Morning Call, South Whitehall took a look at Bethlehem Township’s truck parking solution while shaping their own. Bethlehem Township prohibits commercial vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds from parking in residential areas between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 a.m., according to city code.

However, Bethlehem’s ordinance is a bit in reverse. Truckers cannot park their tractor in their driveway, but they can park on the side of the curb, according to Dennis Smith, residential code official of Bethlehem Township. Don’t try to make sense of this. I’ve tried and failed.  Either way, truckers can have their vehicles near their home, which is good enough.

Both Bethlehem and South Whitehall Township have decided to meet in the middle rather than make a knee-jerk reaction and just ban trucks. Reserved and/or paid parking for residents may not be the perfect solution for your hometown, but it is far better than many alternatives.