Spaces at library no longer reserved for hybrids

May. 01, 2013 @ 01:12 PM

Town Manager Roger Stancil has ordered the removal of eight signs reserving parking spaces closest to the Chapel Hill Public Library for hybrids and other low emission vehicles.

Stancil made the move Monday in response to citizens’ complaints about the town’s decision to allow only hybrids and other low emission cars to park in prime parking spaces in the library’s main lot.

In a letter to the Town Council, Stancil said he believed the spaces were reserved for lower emission vehicles to bank points toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the newly expanded library.

“As I understand it, for the signs to count toward the certification, they must be close to the building,” Stancil said. “I am taking this action because of the number of concerns that have been expressed and because it is not yet clear exactly how many signs we need and where they can be located to achieve certification.”

Three reserved spaces for low emission vehicles will remain in the library’s circle.

“It is uncertain, however, how many signs we need or what other options there are for placement that will help us attain the certification,” Stancil said. “We are working with the architect to explore those options.”

One resident emailed the council at least twice this week to complain about the reserved parking spaces.

Janet Johnston wrote that when she arrived at the library Monday morning all of the parking spaces in the main parking lot were taken except for the ones reserved for “hybrids” and other low emission cars. 

“The kicker was that there were six cars going slowly around and around the lot, using up lots of that gas we are so concerned about, trolling the lot for a space that might open up,” Johnston said. “I passed one elderly woman walking gingerly and painfully, as it appeared, past all those empty spaces, and one young woman carrying a bag of books and a very big heavy baby.”

Johnston was more pointed in a second email message accusing the town of elitism and of engaging in social engineering.

“Perhaps the committee members [who came up with the idea] could spend some time in the parking lot observing the dismal results of their decision,” Johnston said. “If they did, they would see the people who really need these spaces limping past them so that they can be used by the eco-conscious young with the money to buy a technologically sophisticated new car.”

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said Stancil made the right decision to respond to citizens’ concerns.

 “I think this was a wise way to go,” Kleinschmidt said. “The signs may be repositioned and put somewhere else. We’ve gone quite a ways through this process [LEED certification] and want to make sure we continue to support that.”

LEED is a voluntary program that generally measures the operating efficiency of a building.

Buildings with LEED certification have lower operating cost, higher value and conserve water and energy.

They are also healthier for occupants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.