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Public hearing on front-yard parking Monday
City Council to hear concerns of resident during unusual forum
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Statesboro officials aren't sure what size crowd to expect at Monday's public hearing regarding a proposed front-yard parking ordinance, but they are anxious to hear the concerns residents have regarding the issue.
    "What we want to do is get input on what concerns people have," Statesboro City Manager George Wood said. "Some people see it as a problem and some people don't see it as a problem at all."
    A proposal that would have limited parking to only paved surfaces in the front yard as well as limiting the amount of the yard that could be paved was tabled earlier this year to allow for residents to have time to express their opinions on the issue.
    Likely, a time limit will be placed on those addressing the council, Wood said.
    "We're not looking for people to repeat the same ideas. We want to get the ideas on the table," Wood said. "This isn't going to be a head count where this many think this way and this many think another way."
    Nearly all of the city's public hearings are held during city council meetings, so the Monday hearing is rare. However, City Manager George Wood said they wanted to have this as a separate hearing so it didn't get lost in other business the council deals with at a regular meeting.
    The issue was brought to the forefront when a group of neighbors from around the Georgia Southern campus addressed the council about the number of cars in their neighborhood parking in the front yard.
    Among their concerns were the impact it had on property values as well as making the neighborhood look bad.
    Speaking at a meeting in January, Sara Neville Bennett praised the council for attempting to do something about the issue.
    Bennett said having cars parked all over the yard "has a direct effect on property values and resale values."
    Those opposed to the measure had concerns as well, including wondering about homes that have no paved driveway or homes that may not have space available for a driveway.
    "Those are legitimate concerns and that's what we want to talk about," Wood said. "Are there unintended consequences we need to look at?"
    Statesboro Mayor Bill Hatcher has said in the past that the issue was a difficult one for the council to deal with, especially because it deals with private property.
    "I think this council and administration has been reluctant to tell people what they can do with their homes," he said.
    No decision will be made at Monday's hearing. Instead, Wood said he, the city attorney and planning director will ask the council what direction they would like to take and then begin working on a proposed ordinance to address the council's directive, if that's their desire.
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