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The Lake News Online
  • Camden County Courthouse: No free parking

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  • Changes in the parking times for the lot located on West Highway 54 on the north side of the Camdenton square has stirred up some commotion among a group of Camden County residents.
    The parking is on a public street and until recently was designated as two hour parking.
    That changed when the Camdenton Board of Alderman voted to adjust the parking times making the spots near several businesses 30 minutes and the spots near the highway one hour parking.
    That's a problem for people visiting the Camden County Courthouse, according to some who would like to use the parking spaces without fear of being ticketed.
    A group of residents including several attorneys believe the city is catering to a particular business. The businesses located near the parking include Pro Realty, Butt's Barber Shop and the Camden County Courthouse.
    "It used to be two hour parking and since I've been here, we have had problems with attorneys and people going into the courthouse parking in front of the businesses here," Bob Billick of Butt's Barber Shop recalled.
    Billick says that he only contacted the Camdenton Police when he noticed vehicles parked in those spots past the time limit. He also claims that he has asked attorneys to park in other spots near the courthouse but says that they have refused. Billick also blames the parking issue on Camden County courthouse employees.
    "The biggest problem is the courthouse. It seems like all the courthouse employees park close to the building," Billick said. His solution would be to have those employees park behind the courthouse freeing up the spots in front of the courthouse enabling attorneys to park there.
    For Billick, his business relies on customers who pass by and decide to stop in for a haircut. He claims that people do not stop when cars are parked out front because they think the barber shop is busy.
    On the morning of Oct. 29, the group of concerned citizens stood out in front of the barber shop protesting the parking debacle.
    Protesters held signs that read, "End the Monopoly on Free Parking. Repeal City of Camdenton Ordinance 2477-13." The flyer also included Camdenton Mayor John McNabb's contact information.
    On the back of the flyer, the group outlines the issue.
    "The City has not provided us with any evidence of the number of overtime parking tickets that have been issued on this street nor has it provided us with the evidence that this street was excessively congested with traffic. Frankly, we believe that the two hour parking limitation functioned appropriately for the area and the three businesses that were primarily served. Changing the time limitations to such a significantly shorter duration, effectually, makes this area unusable for patrons of Camden County," the flyer reads. "The short time limits, we think, are specifically tailored to suit the customers of one business. The result is that the city is subsidizing one business with its own free parking lot that will be maintained, striped and plowed with city funds. We submit that this is patently unfair and beyond the scope of what government on any level should do."
    Page 2 of 2 - According to the protesters, Billick stayed inside his barber shop during the protest.
    One of the concerned citizens, Attorney Barbara VanTine received a letter about the parking changes written by Police Chief Laura Wright on Oct. 4. In response to the letter, VanTine wrote Mayor McNabb asking for clarification on many aspects of the parking debacle including who all received the letter, how many tickets for overtime parking have been given and much more. She also asked if the concerned group could meet with him on Oct. 29. VanTine emailed the letter to McNabb on Oct. 24. As of the morning of Oct. 29, he had not yet responded to her request.
    When asked why he had not responded McNabb said that he had not had adequate time to learn more about the situation before responding.
    As far as the changing of the parking times, McNabb said, "I believe some of the businesses contacted the Police Department."
    He went on to say that the police chief researched the issue and did her 'due diligence' to figure out how to resolve the parking problems. He told the Lake Sun that an ordinance requires two readings by the aldermen to be approved. Both readings for this ordinance were completed at one meeting.
    Many citizens in the group felt that by changing the time limitations, the city was showing favoritism to a particular business.
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