The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday December 7th

Chapel Hill resident frustrated by parking rules

<p>Chapel Hill resident Michael Holland received a ticket for parking in front of the fire hydrant in front of Mediterranean Deli. He says the hydrant was camouflaged by flower pots and faded paint. Courtesy of Michael Holland. </p>
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Chapel Hill resident Michael Holland received a ticket for parking in front of the fire hydrant in front of Mediterranean Deli. He says the hydrant was camouflaged by flower pots and faded paint. Courtesy of Michael Holland. 

Chapel Hill resident Mike Holland received a $100 parking ticket in February for parking in front of a fire hydrant at Mediterranean Deli. He has been working to appeal his ticket on the grounds that the hydrant was camouflaged by potted plants and faded paint.

“The hydrant was effectively camouflaged to the public as well as the fire department,” Holland said. “It puts the fire department in an unsafe situation.”

Holland also said two panhandlers were harassing him for money at the time of the ticket, creating an unsafe situation for himself and his family. He said he quickly parked and left his car to get his daughter away from the panhandlers.

The hydrant in front of the deli is painted pink, which blends in with the brick exterior of the building, Holland said.

He said the paint was faded and suggested that hydrants around Chapel Hill be painted a bright orange or yellow to increase visibility.

Orange Water and Sewer Authority owns the hydrants in Chapel Hill and is responsible for the color, Fire Chief Dan Jones said.

Holland’s initial appeal was denied. Brenda Jones, Chapel Hill parking superintendent, said circumstances did not warrant a void of his citation.

Brenda Jones said parking services staff and the fire marshal reviewed the area around the hydrant and found no justification for awarding an appeal.

“We made every effort to review Mr. Holland’s appeal, and his concerns were shared with traffic engineering, the fire department and police department,” she said. “Unfortunately, we don’t always make the popular decision.”

Chief Dan Jones also said the fire hydrant is visible at the deli. He said firefighters have been instructed to break the windows of any car parked in front of a fire hydrant so they can thread the fire hose through the car.

Holland has been working for three years to change parking conditions in Chapel Hill.

He said the threat posed to bicyclists and corporate delivery trucks parking in the street are additional issues that need to be fixed.

His attempt at appealing the ticket is part of his overall efforts to make the area safer for motorists and citizens, he said. And he hopes to help others avoid situations similar to his.

“I don’t want to see someone’s grandmother in the same situation I’m in,” Holland said. “She might not have the time or resources to fight it as I am.”

Holland said residents could go to town councilmen with their parking issues to get more involved with implementing change.

Although Holland’s appeal was initially denied, he still hopes to see the citation dropped, which may require an appeals process through the police department or city manager’s office, he said.

“Of course I would not deliberately park in front of a fire hydrant,” he said. “You could not force me to.”

city@dailytarheel.com



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