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Carol Ave. Residents Challenge Pelham Board

PELHAM, N.Y. – Angry Carol Avenue homeowners came to the Pelham Village Board meeting Tuesday night to confront Mayor Ed Hotchkiss and the trustees about overnight parking.

In the discussion, which lasted nearly 90 minutes and at times got heated, Hotchkiss acknowledged that Carol Avenue residents were able to park their cars on the street overnight for decades in violation of village law but were never ticketed.

However, that policy has now changed due to a dispute that was settled in December between the board and the Clovelly Homeowners Association when the board noticed that cars parked overnight on Carol Avenue were not being ticketed.

The board passed a resolution in December that names Hillside and Brookside avenues as public streets in order to avoid litigation from the Clovelly Homeowners Association , which was disputing that those avenues were private streets. They made an exception to the law and agreed to grant overnight parking permits to residents of that area. However, residents on the east side of Carol Avenue were not granted the parking permits and have been issued warnings from the Pelham Police Department that they are violating the local overnight parking law. During the board’s May 9 meeting, which was heavily-attended by Carol Avenue residents, the trustees said the dispute would be discussed further.

The residents had been previously given until June 1 to find other parking arrangements in order to avoid tickets, but Tuesday night they were granted a three-month extension to Sept. 1. While they will be given warnings for parking overnight, they will not have to pay any fines.

Kathy Mattesi, a Carol Avenue homeowner and member of the Carol Avenue Association, said definantly “we’re not going to take this lying down.”

“Everybody on Carol Avenue refuses to move their cars. That means if you want to give us tickets, you’re going to give us tickets and we’re gonna come to every meeting. We will go in front of the judge every Wednesday – it’s that simple.”

The Carol Avenue residents argued that their driveways are narrow and not able to hold two cars. Hotchkiss suggested parking on Boulevard, in Mount Vernon, which they did not support because many said their cars had been broken into while parked there.

“If you tried to park your car and I don’t care what kind of car you’re driving in my driveway, whoever your passenger is, would have to climb out the back – it’s impossible,” she said. Mattesi said “he doesn’t care – they can go in my living room for all he cares,” referring to Hotchkiss and where Carol Avenue residents could park their cars.

Several stated that they would not have moved to Carol Avenue if they had known they could not park overnight, including Carol Avenue homeowner Francis LaManna.

“If I knew when I moved somewhere that I wasn’t going to be able to park, I wouldn’t have moved there,” said LaManna. “What’s unfair is that we’ve been doing this for so long and all of a sudden you’re going to stop us. We’ve budgeted and we’ve planned our lives.”

Carol Avenue Association member Robert Keller said that it was not fair and overnight parking should have been granted to “the entire neighborhood” when the west side of Carol Avenue received the exemption. Hotchkiss said that certain problems in the village over the years have not been addressed and it is the board’s “mission to some extent to come up and address those because we don’t want to kick these down the road to somebody else, to other boards.” After much disputing and other Pelham residents coming to speak on the issue, the board decided that it would look at a possible long-term solution, but did not guarantee the overnight parking policy would be changed for Carol Avenue residents.

Trustee Paul McGoldrick called the issue “very, very complicated” and that he was “frankly not comfortable knowing which way to go with this,” but that he was open to discussing it.

“The genie is out of the bottle and whether we like or not, we have to deal with the realities of the law on the one hand, the neighborhood on the other hand, and it’s a very difficult path to navigate," said McGoldrick. "Can we now turn a blind eye to what the law says?”He added that if permits were granted for overnight parking, which cost $750, Carol Avenue residents would not have exclusive rights to that area. Other residents could park there as well.

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