Smithfield council restricts weekday parking on Summit Drive

SMITHFIELD — Parking will now be restricted on Summit Drive on weekdays, after a Wednesday night City Council vote. The council voted 4-1 to ban parking on either side of the street on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking will be allowed on weekends and holidays.

There was lengthy discussion of the new walking path on Summit Drive, which is a white line painted on the street six feet away from the shoulder of the road. Many residents attended the meeting to express their concerns with the new walking path.

This has been an ongoing issue in the neighborhood since last year when the school district decided to stop busing the kids that live on Summit Drive to school.

Scott Archibald, who lives on Summit Drive, said “Mayor, we need you to step in, make a decision, and stand behind it.”

The council made a decision to act after more than an hour of discussion between residents and council members. There were many suggestions on a solution; each one came with new concerns. The parents with young children were concerned about cars being parked in the walkway when their children needed to use it to walk to school.

Cacia Hunt uses the path to walk to school every day. She said she was “thankful for the new path but cars still park in the path. My brother and I have to walk into the middle of the street to get around them, or through the neighbors’ yards.”

Hunt’s mother Rebecca said, “Our family would like to see a sidewalk built or no parking allowed.”

Ralph Holt was concerned about the possibility of no parking. He owns a lawn care business and uses the street to park his trailer during the night. “Do you want us to sell our home and buy a new one with a sidewalk and a street to park on?” asked Holt. “We would like a sidewalk.”

City planning said the road is too narrow to build a sidewalk. The road is 26 feet wide. A sidewalk would be six feet wide, and if they allowed parking on both sides of the street you would not be able to get a car through. For example, parking stalls are usually 10 feet wide.

Carol Huckabee, a longtime resident on Summit Drive, said she walks three times a week every week down the street. “Most people are abiding and respecting the walkway by parking on the opposite side of the street.” She is concerned about not being able to have guests to her home because they will have no place to park.

One family has decided they have had enough with the fighting the walking lane has caused in the neighborhood and is going to move out as soon as their house sells. Scott Parkinson said, “it’s a shame that is has to be so contentious in the neighborhood.”

After over an hour of hearing and discussing ideas presented, Councilwoman Kris Monson made a motion to restrict parking on Summit Drive from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays year round, excluding weekends and holidays. Councilman William “Dee” Wood seconded the motion, and everyone voted yes except for Councilman Brent Buttars, who stated that “year round restrictions and 6 p.m. are pushing it.”

Monson thanked all of the community members for coming to the meeting to express their concerns. “It is nice to have city input before we make a decision rather than after,” said Monson.

In other business, several residents from the neighborhood next to Mack Park were at the meeting to discuss a discrepancy on property lines from their property to the city property. David Dickason’s house backs up into the park and he has made many improvements to his backyard since moving into the house, believing it was on his property.

“There was a fence there when I moved in that I was told was the property line, why would I put these things on property that was not mine?” said Dickason. “I have chased out numerous campers from the park since I moved in, people lighting fires under the trees, drinking and smoking dope. I like the improvements to the area I just want to keep my yard the way it is.”

Monson echoed his wishes, saying “I want to make sure you can maintain what you have.”

Dickason explained that once the surveyor came out to define the property lines, people had property lines through their houses and his yard goes all the way to the corner of his neighbor’s house. This occurred because 40 years ago there were no laws on how you had to build your house on your lot. You didn’t have to worry about how big your front, back, or side yard were.

The council said they would look into giving the residents the land they thought was theirs for free. They would only need to pay the cost of the property line change not pay for the land. The council will further discuss this matter at the next meeting.

The council also appointed Brittney Hansen as a member of the recreation department staff with a unanimous vote. They also discussed the possibility of purchasing a new road paint striper for the city. This matter will be on the agenda for the next city council meeting Oct. 12.

Published in cooperation with the Hard News Cafe. Original story is here.