Homeowners Blocking Public Right-A-Ways To Parked Cars Causing Concern
The City of Saugatuck faces a dilemma regarding parking on public right-of-ways.
During a busy summer tourist season, Saugatuck needs every available parking spot to accommodate its visitors, but some property owners are preventing motorists from using the public right-of-way— which usually constitutes the grass or dirt areas along each side of the road in front of houses—as a parking space.
“Are we going to be telling people (visitors and locals alike) they can park on the grass?,” Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson asked his colleagues during Monday night’s discussion.
“And if motorists are going to be encouraged to use the grass as a parking spot, would that mean the city should pave those areas instead of leaving them as grass areas?” Johnson further wondered aloud.
Property owners may not be aware the area adjoining a road is, in fact, a public right-of-way, the council noted.
Most roads, if not restricted, conform to the statutory width of the state of Michigan’s road right-of-way of 33 feet on each side of the middle of the road, totaling a 66-foot right-of-way.
Besides city property being ceded or in the process of being taken over by private property owners, the restriction of the right-of-way by adjacent property owners also presents a serious traffic safety hazard across the city, according to local resident Cathy Brockington.
She wrote a letter with her concerns to city officials, making a list of problem areas around the city and the variety of methods property owners use to essentially take over the right-of-way: planting flowers like Daylilies, placing rocks, growing grass up to the paved road, erecting sticks on the ground, etc.
On Park Street north of Mt. Baldhead, Brockington notes, “property owners put rocks and grass up to the pavement so there is no public parking on road right-of-way. Overflow for Mt. Baldhead parking is frequently a mess in summer.”
The city council decided to take up the matter in a future workshop for a more thorough review in an attempt to find a solution to the parking and right-of-way issues.