Parking at issue with Homer Road widening
Reduced parking for businesses is still at the forefront of the issues remaining to be dealt with in the design phase of Department of Transportation and Development's widening of U.S. Hwy. 79 (Homer Road).
The problem, according to DOTD traffic engineer Ron Watts, is that many of the buildings on Homer Road were built prior to current regulations and without taking the state right-of-way into account.
"The right-of-way was established I think in the 50's," he said. "Some of these businesses I think were built in the 70's."
Watts is hoping to deal with the parking issues in the design phase to avoid unexpected expenses for the state. He said the state is currently investigating what was done when similar circumstances occurred in the past.
As reported in a Sept. 30, 2011 Minden Press-Herald story, Watts evaluated potential right-of-way issues for businesses along the project's path after Ashley Buffington, DVM, owner of Buffington Veterinary Hospital, brought her concerns to his attention.
Life After Death Tattoo is located across the street from Buffington. Their parking is already minimal in front. There is parking in back, but it may come at a price.
"If someone rents the back, I'll be in a difficult situation," Life After Death co-owner Terry Vining said. "It's an additional $500 I think if I were to rent the whole building. That's a lot of extra money to be shelling out for a space you aren't going to do anything with, just so you'd know you're going to have some parking."
Vining said that a consistent location is crucial in the tattoo business, and he didn't think he could get better visibility in another location.
"I can't even begin to tell you how important it is for me to stay in the same spot," he said. "The last thing I want to do is move. That would be the kiss of death."
Amy Mealy, Vining's landlord, said she didn't even know about the project until her tenant informed her. She said that even though she doesn't run a business out of the location, a reduction in parking would affect her ability to rent the building.
A number of other businesses along the road may be similarly affected. Most national chains took the right-of-way into consideration when building, but local businesses may or may not have considered the possibility of losing part of their parking.
When new state highway regulations came into effect, the established businesses were grandfathered out. However, now that Hwy. 79 is being widened, those businesses will have to conform to the newest standards.
The newer regulations require a curb at roadside, so traffic will only have access to parking through an entrance. The size and number of entrances is a function of the width of the property; the narrower the property, the fewer and narrower the entrances.
Watts said he is hoping design exceptions will be made to account for the parking issues.
According to Minden Public Works Director, the city has also been working to relocate electrical distribution poles to the back of the right of way along the route.
The city has utilities underground as well. Currently, DOTD and the city are working out what will stay, what will move and how to pay for it.
The project is currently in the design phase and on time. Letting of bids is expected to begin in September.