Parking restricted at Black Bear Transmission & Automotive
CANTON — During a special-called meeting attended by three members of the Canton Board of Aldermen, members voted unanimously to restrict on-street parking along 115 feet of Johnson Street, starting at the point it intersects with Pisgah Drive.
Until the ordinance change, street parking was allowed all along Johnson Street, as it is in numerous parts of the town.
Homeowners along the street were present at the meeting to stress the safety hazards they face daily if they must veer into the opposing traffic lane to avoid vehicles parked in the street by the owner and customers of Black Bear Transmission and Automotive.
Business owner John Mamph did not attend the meeting.
After Canton Police Chief Bryan Whitner made a presentation, complete with enlarged photographs indicating traffic problems at the intersection, Vice Mayor Carole Edwards invited the public to comment on the issue.
The homeowners agreed they were not trying to close the business down, but just wanted rules in place so they didn’t have to risk having an accident to pull around vehicles parked on the public right-of-way.
“I was probably the first to call the police,” said Johnson Street resident Laura Simmons who talked about trying to get around a U-Haul and a small car, both parked on the street near Pisgah Drive. “If I had been alone, I wouldn’t have thought twice about pulling around them, but I had my 2-year old with me. We have no problem with him running a business. We’re trying to be safe leaving and entering our homes.”
“The man should be able to make and earn a living and do it to the best of his ability,” agreed Johnson Street resident Daryl Ganskopp, “but the business has grown.”
He said the on-street parking, which is the norm for many residents on the dead-end street, didn’t become a problem at Black Bear Automotive until the U-Haul business was added. At that point, the available parking on the property was outgrown, and more space was needed both for customers and the U-Hauls.
Canton Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss said Mamph is essentially running two businesses on a single lot.
“Each use requires certain parking numbers and he barely has it with his first use,” Hendler-Voss said. “Bringing in second use, he doesn’t have it at all. There were nine customer parking spaces for the service station and when brought in a second business, the argument could be made he would need to double that amount of parking. It is paramount he find a way to make his parking work on site.”
Hendler-Voss said he walked the property with the owner and discussed a way parking could be reconfigured. However, if the business continues to grow, it is likely separate parking arrangements will need to be made, perhaps even by renting space from other business owners in the area.
The aldermen were concerned about town-owned property directly across from the business where vehicles have occasionally parked and asked what could be done to stop that from happening once the parking restriction on Johnson Street took effect.
Hendler-Voss said there were several ways to rope off the area to restrict parking. The motion made by Alderman Ralph Hamlett to amend the town ordinance restricting areas where street parking is not allowed included a provision to erect barriers and signs prohibiting parking on the town property across the street as well.
The issue that town officials say they still need to investigate is whether the town has any authority to restrict where vehicles are parked on property leased by Mamph. During his presentation, Whitner showed a photograph of a car parked on the business property close to Johnson Street and Pisgah Drive.
If street parking is restricted, and Mamph or his customers use portions of the lot close to Johnson or Holtzclaw streets, sight access could be just as restrictive for motorists.
Whitner and Town Attorney William C. Morgan said if that should happen, the town would need to examine zoning ordinances to see if there would be a way to address concerns.
In a Thursday interview, Mamph said couldn’t attend the meeting because he was so upset about the issue he developed a migraine headache and was throwing up.
“I’m a little guy. I live on what I make this week and hope work comes in the next week,” Mamph said. “I don’t get a paycheck if I don’t work.”
Mamph said he has operated the U-Haul business since he opened at the location three years ago, and that it has been his repair business that has grown.
The town’s action has not only upset him, but his landlord, Steve Singleton, Mamph said. The next step will be to seek legal counsel.