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City council will hold public hearing in August about proposed front yard parking
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    The Statesboro City Council will hold a public hearing at their first meeting in August to allow pubic comments on its proposed restrictions on front yard parking.
    The proposed ordinance would only apply to homes zoned R-15 or larger and would prohibit parking in front of a house unless that property was paved. Parking would be allowed anywhere on the side yard or rear yard, without paving, provided it was done in an "orderly fashion."
    The council had previously considered a much more stringent ordinance that would have required cars be parked on a paved surface. That ordinance drew a lot of criticism from those who thought it was an unnecessary government intrusion into private property rights.
    At a public hearing on the issue earlier in the year, several people said they thought that ordinance would create a hardship for many people, especially those who lived on smaller lots that may not have the space to add additional paving for parking.
    Councilman John Morris said he thinks the new ordinance is an improvement over the first one. "I think it's very well worded," he said.
    Councilman Joe Brannen said he's anxious to finally deal with the matter, saying it's time to move forward with it.
    In fact, the council wanted to hold the public hearing at their next meeting in July, but because it is considered a zoning change, it has to be advertised for at least 15 days before the public hearing can be held.
    Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council decided to table a request from Charles and Alicia Collins who were seeking to move a house from 11 Bulloch Street to 19 Elm Street. They intend to renovate the home and turn it into a rental property.
    The new location is located at the edge of the Central Business District and there are no requirements in regards to setback requirements or parking regulations.
    Representatives from both the Elm Street Church of God and Brannen Chapel United Methodist Church spoke in opposition of the move, saying there wasn't enough room on the lot for the home and there won't be enough parking for the tenants.
    City Manager George Wood said he agreed with both of those points, but legally, the city's zoning ordinance did not give the city a legal reason to justify turning down the request.
    He and other city officials have met with the Collins in an effort to provide some parking on the lot as well as have it designed so that the fire department could maneuver on the lot in the event of a fire.
    "We're trying to make the best of a bad situation," he said, adding the council may need to revisit its ordinance regarding the central business district.
    Prior to making his motion to table, councilman Tommy Blitch said he understands the objections of the church members.
    "I don't think we disagree with anything you're saying, but if it's a law than it's the law and we have to follow it."
    He went on to say he wasn't ready to vote on the measure and made a motion to table it for two weeks, which was approved unanimously.
    Other action taken by the council Tuesday included:
    - approving a variance request to increase the maximum density for apartments on 2.96 acres on the west side of Deloach Street;
    - approved the rezoning of 57.52 acres on the north and south sides of Braswell Street to Light Industrial;
    - approved several resolutions amending various fees that were discussed during the approval of the city's budget.
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