Does South Burlington have too much parking?

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The city of South Burlington believes it has a parking problem: too many available spaces. And all those parking lots aren't leaving much room for new developers.

The director of planning and zoning for the city says that for restaurants, for every 1,000-square feet of building space, a developer must reserve an additional 4,500 feet for parking.

However, as our Kiernan Brisson tells us, in an effort to spur more business, the city may get rid of the minimum parking regulations.

Addressing issues with the minimum parking requirements in South Burlington has been under discussion with the planning commission for months. Research commissioned by the city shows that, as a whole, there is just too much available parking.

"During four different counts in the evening, on weekends, during weekdays, the usage was somewhere in the mid-30 percentage for all the parking that's available," said Paul Conner, South Burlington's director of planning and zoning.

That's less than one-third of available parking being used, according to the research.

The city believes eliminating the minimum parking requirements would better fit the needs of the businesses, like parking-space requirements.

"The primary objective here is to remove obstacles created by the city requiring more parking than might be necessary; this isn't about forcing change, it's about enabling change," Conner said.

City officials also believe the elimination of parking requirements would make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the area.

"One of our big goals in the comprehensive plan was to accommodate the vehicle, while really being able to focus on efficient movement of people including bikes and pedestrians, kind of all of our users," said Jessica Louisos, the chair of the planning commission.

The city says residents have told them that they are happy to see a possible change to the parking policy.

"Overwhelmingly positive," Louisos said. "It came from both members of the business community and, you know, an engineer representing property owners, as well as someone from our energy committee. I think this is across the board, with at least the types of people."

City councilors will hold another public hearing on Sept. 16 to address land development regulations, including an amendment to eliminate minimum parking requirements.