• August 23, 2019

Upper to codify parking limits - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Upper to codify parking limits

Strathmere bike lane project bans vehicles

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Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2019 3:52 pm

UPPER TOWNSHIP — As Township Committee introduced an ordinance establishing new parking rules, members heard fresh dissatisfaction with a pedestrian lane along Commonwealth Avenue in Strathmere. 

Committee members voted unanimously Monday, July 8, for an ordinance to ban parking along much of the west side of the road, part of a county plan to create a pedestrian lane along the roadway. A public hearing and final vote are planned for Aug. 12. 

Before July started, Cape May County officials had the new stripes painted and “no parking” signs in place along the roadway. In many places, they were blithely ignored, Linda Bateman told committee members. 

Bateman, president of the Strathmere Improvement Association, said as of the start of the summer many drivers ignored the parking restriction. She said there has been some improvement but until all of the cars are off the pedestrian lane it is not a safe route. 

There have been concerns expressed for years over safety along the roadway, which is narrow, has no sidewalk and is extremely busy on summer weekends. After extensive discussion, the county this summer banned parking on the west side of the road in the Whale Beach area. 

The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders has approved the parking ban. The ordinance introduced is the local version of that ban. The pathway continues into Sea Isle City, where Bateman said enforcement has been more vigilant. 

She said she tried to inform people about the parking limitations and some put notes under windshield wipers. 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t want to have people confronting other people,” she said. “A lot of people thanked me, a lot of people gave me some really interesting hand gestures. I don’t think this is something that citizens can enforce.” 

On social media pages, some Strathmere residents and visitors have criticized the move. Bateman said she was told to call 911 for the State Police, but by the end of the July 4 weekend, troopers said to stop calling, that they had more pressing priorities. 

“The bottom line is we don’t have parking enforcement,” she said. 

It was not for lack of attention by the State Police, according to Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Brisbone, the second in command at the Woodbine barracks. He regularly attends the Upper Township meetings, and at this one challenged the idea that troopers were inattentive. He said one trooper wrote 35 citations or warnings on the new rule and three cars were towed.

“We had a trooper there and he was writing as much as possible,” Brisbone said. 

He said troopers did not want to be too heavy-handed on a recently enacted ordinance. 

Bateman suggested the township enter a shared service agreement with Sea Isle City for parking enforcement or hire someone part time to write tickets. 

“No one is faulting the State Police for the job that they did,” Bateman said. 

Committee members pointed out that there are four troopers per shift for the entirety of Upper Township and beyond, while Sea Isle City likely had its entire police department on duty over the holiday weekend. 

Committeeman Ed Barr said things would change as tickets get written for the no parking zone, while Committeeman Curtis Corson added that any ticket written for a local violation will get thrown out until the ordinance introduced that night takes effect. 

“Until Aug. 12, we can’t write a local ticket,” he said. 

In fact, it typically takes 60 days after approval for an ordinance to take effect. 

Last weekend, Saturday and Sunday were hot and sunny with beaches drawing crowds throughout the shore. A few cars continued to park in the pedestrian lane, but it seemed like far fewer than previous weekends. Some blocks had no cars parked on that side at all, while others had lines of cars parked in the lane. 

On Saturday afternoon, a trooper was on scene. The lights of the patrol car were on next to a Mustang on the beach side of the road that pulled up onto the dune in order to fit into a tight parking space. 

Also at the recent committee meeting, members gave the OK for a company working with New Jersey American Water Co. to launch a drone from Pastime Place, a dead end off Shore Road near the Seaville Shopping Plaza. The short road leads to fields owned by the adjacent property owner, with no other houses built on it and no traffic. 

“They want to be able to launch the drone from the cul-de-sac, then they’re going to do a test flight around the water tower and then come back and land,” township engineer Paul Dietrich said. 

The drone will take video of the top of the tower to inspect the cell antennae and other items at the top. 

Dietrich said there likely are too many cars to launch from the parking area at the Acme, which is closer to the water tower. 

“Why didn’t they just do it?” Corson asked. 

“Because they’re trying to follow proper procedures and didn’t want to get in trouble and are doing the right thing,” Dietrich answered. 

“They could have been there and gone before we knew about it,” Corson added.

Committee approved the request, with Mayor Rich Palombo adding the request that any video be released to township firefighters and emergency management officials.

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