Fayetteville residents sell parking to high school students
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Enterprising neighbors may need to go through some hoops if they want to keep charging Fayetteville High School students to park on their property.
As a result of the chronic shortage in student parking, several properties are being used for off-site parking, with some converted into gravel parking lots, according to the notification the Planning Department sent to more than 50 homes. Two lots directly across from the school have about a dozen spots each.
Many Fayetteville High juniors and seniors said the lack of parking on campus is a problem and some pay $500 or more a year to park at nearby houses, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Andrew Garner, city planning director, said they sent code violation notices dated Aug. 2 to three homeowners after multiple people complained about illegal parking.
All three were in violation of city code for development of a parking lot in a residential zoning district and use of the parking lot to serve an off-site nonresidential use; two were in violation of construction of a gravel parking area without a permit and use of gravel for a parking lot surface, according to the zoning violation notices.
Garner said he’s aware others may be in violation by charging students to park at their homes and that’s why they sent out a notification neighborhood-wide to inform people off-site parking and creating off-site parking lots are violations of city code.
Richard Lee Grubbs Jr., owner of 324 S. Buchanan Ave., and Vance Arnold, owner of 404 S. Buchanan Ave., who have the gravel lots right across from the school declined to comment. The owner of 328 S. Duncan Ave. is Hourglass Holding, according to Washington County property records, and couldn’t be reached for comment.
This issue is nothing new, Garner said. The Planning Department has been working with the School District and homeowners since spring 2017 when neighbors first complained about runoff from the gravel lots washing into their yards. Now the clock has run out, Garner said.
“They need to come into the Planning Commission and ask for a permit if they want to continue,” he said.
At least one owner has filed for a permit, which the commission will consider, Garner said.
No fines are issued for these types of violations, but the commission could send the issue to the city prosecutor if homeowners continue to have a gravel lot and sell parking spots to students with the proper permits.
The high school has 442 student parking spots on campus and 1,283 juniors and seniors, according to the early enrollment numbers. School started Aug. 13.
Every senior can get a parking permit, which costs $50 for the school year, if they request one in the spring. Juniors who request a permit are placed on a waiting list and randomly chosen to get one, Principal Jay Dostal said. This year, 130 juniors have a spot and 109 are on the waiting list, he said.
The students aren’t assigned a specific spot. The school doesn’t oversell parking permits to make sure students granted a permit have a space to park, Dostal said.
Junior Brooke Weder said she has a parking pass but some students choose to pay more to park to ensure a spot right across the street from campus. If the closest spots on campus fill, students with a pass have to park down the hill by the football field.
“It just sucks, because even people who have a pass sometimes have to park way down on days like today,” Weder said as she walked through the pouring rain to class.
Student parking is a continual concern and the School Board and district administration are aware, Dostal said.
“We review parking processes and procedures every year and we make every effort to provide equity for our students who drive to school,” he said. “We continue to work with our community partners to identify opportunities for student parking when it is available.”
The school encourages students and parents to use school buses and carpooling, Dostal said.
Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com