Polk commissioners approve new parking plan for HOAs

Article Courtesy of The Ledger

By John Chambliss

Published November 25, 2018

BARTOW — Nearly a year ago, a resident in a subdivision off U.S. 27 contacted former County Commissioner Todd Dantzler about cars parked on both sides of the road in the development.

The resident said fire trucks or ambulances couldn’t get by during an emergency and school buses were affected. There was even a case when emergency officials were forced to run a gurney around parked cars to reach a patient. Dantzler looked into it, talked to the fire chief and other county officials.

On Tuesday, commissioners, minus Dantzler who was termed out of office, voted 5-0 to support a parking restriction policy in subdivisions that would prevent parking on one side of the road.

Deputy County Manager Joe Halman, who oversees the county’s fire and rescue divisions, said ambulances have been able to reach someone in need, but it can be slowed down in some subdivisions.

“Every second and minute counts when you’re looking at providing medical care,” Halman said. “It complicates us providing life-saving measures to victims.”

Commissioner George Lindsey said an HOA in the county will be required to come forward with a parking issue.

Then, county employees would send ballots to members of the HOA for a vote to approve the new parking restrictions.

A minimum of 67 percent of those homeowners must support the request for the process to move forward, according to county documents. Homeowners would have 60 days to return the signed ballot to the county. If someone doesn’t vote, it is considered a vote in favor of the restriction, according to the documents.

If approved, then the issue will be voted on by commissioners. Once that occurs, signs would be installed on one side of the road, according to documents.

Lindsey asked County Manager Jim Freeman if there was a process in place to remove the signs if homeowners didn’t like the new plan after approving it.

Freeman said commissioners had the authority to rescind the plan.

County Commissioner John Hall asked what commissioners could do if there was a persistent problem but the HOA doesn’t reach 67 percent to make the change.

Freeman said if fire and emergency officials believe there is a threat to safety then commissioners could take action themselves and make the change.