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Parking hearing draws crowd
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Approximately 80 people attended a rare Monday public hearing dedicated exclusively to addressing parking in front yards, with people from all sides of the issue expressing their concerns to the Statesboro City Council.
    On one side of the contentious issue were people who said parking cars in the front yard impacted property values and was unsightly.
    Sara Neville Bennett said uncontrolled parking "is a blight" to cities and led to the decline  in the appearance of neighborhoods.
    "Potential buyers are not willing to pay as much for property in blighted, unsightly neighborhoods as they would elsewhere," she said.
    On the other side of the issue were those who believe the government shouldn't be legislating what they can do on private property.
    Among the people in that camp was Deke Cox, who said if the issue was the impact parking cars in the yard had on property values, the city would need to legislate other things that could negatively impact property values, including the color of paint on houses.
    "Surely the city council has other things to worry about than an ordinance that not just interferes, but meddles with people's personal property rights," he said.
    James Hood, who owns several rental properties near Georgia Southern, said he spoke to three appraisers who told him that cars parking in the front yard would impact property values but $1,000, at most.
    Anthony Mann also opposed any ordinance restricting where people can park on private property, saying "property values alone are not enough to warrant passing an ordinance."
    The council had previously considered an ordinance that would have prohibited parking on any unpaved surface in the front yard, but the council tabled that proposal and Statesboro Mayor Bill Hatcher said the initial ordinance went too far in trying to deal with the problem.
    Statesboro City Manager George Wood said the issue is a difficult one to address because some lots in the city aren't large enough to provide additional parking , be it paved or unpaved.
    "We may have to do this in certain zoning districts because in R-6 (6,000 square-foot lots) and R-8 (8,000 square-foot lots), there is not enough room to physically add more parking," Wood said.
    Hatcher said the council and city staff will look at the information and concerns brought before the city council and try to formulate something that addresses those concerns.
    "We must find something that's fair and that everyone can live with," he said.
    <I>Luke Martin can be reached at  (912) 489-9454.
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