Here’s a little bit more on the driveway discussion from last night’s Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board meeting. The JPB decided to recommend some changes to a section of its ordinance that would have required paved driveways for most residential parcels if a major improvement was made to the building or lot or if the residence was converted to a rental. The changes would not have applied to lots with more than 1 acre of land.
I didn’t want to spend too much time in the article that ran today (http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100016756/) on the pros and cons of paved driveways since it sounded like JPB members wanted to add some flexibility into that requirement.
But there was definitely some good discussion.
Parking issues have long been discussed in Bemidji, from what I understand. I know in my 2 1/2 years here, I’ve heard those concerns come up several times at council meetings and various committee groups. And, like Mel Milender said last night, most of the residential parking issues seem to be directed at rental properties.
But, as Milender also noted, parking issues are not all confined to rental properties.
"The other main (area of concern) was when new homes are built and don’t have paved surfaces, the deterioration around the neighborhood is much quicker," Milender said.
JPB members recognized that there are problems with parking throughout the JPB’s coverage area, but said there had to be some flexibility for homeowners.
Specifically, JPB members asked if gravel could be included as an option in addition to "bituminous, concrete, pavers" surfaces required for driveways.
But Milender said that would be a return to the current parking requirements.
He agreed that gravel can certainly be aesthetically pleasing, but said the current parking requirements are not resulting in nicely maintained – or defined – parking areas.
JPB member Clark Chambers said he had a paved driveway along a gravel road, which resulted in problems. Due to weather and street maintenance, the gravel would be pushed onto the driveway and then end up in the lawn, which resulted in the deterioration of the lawn.
"It’s extremely difficult to deal with a paved driveway on a gravel road," he said.
Milender said the JPB should also consider what its goals are for the future of the community. He noted that city residents who live along dirt roads object to having to pay assessments for paving their roads, but having paved driveways make it easier to rationalize the improvements.
"It’s the chicken and the egg theory," he said.
JPB member Richard Lehmann suggested that the parking standards should define a difference between a parking lot and a driveway and handle their standards differently. He noted that he has different driveway surfaces for different garages at his home.
"We need to have some flexibility in there," he said.
What do you think?