Bluffton Planning Commission discusses parking solutions on Calhoun Street

dburley@islandpacket.comSeptember 25, 2013 

An increase in traffic and visitors to Old Town Bluffton has fueled concerns over safety and the need for more parking.

While many residents want something done, the town's Planning Commission said Wednesday night painted parking places should not be part of any short-term solution on Calhoun Street.

"I look at the painted T's and I think, 'Boy, do those look permanent,'" said commissioner Terry Hancock. "When I think of a Bluffton State of Mind, I don't think of the striping."

The town unveiled the striping solution earlier this month after residents and business owners complained of drivers parking in front of their mailboxes and blocking fire hydrants, driveways and sidewalks.

It involved painting 76 parking spaces on Calhoun between Bridge Street and May River Road, banning parking on Lawrence Street and painting no-parking zones around fire hydrants, among other measures. Town council then sent the proposal to the Planning Commission for review.

Commissioners, business owners and residents offered a variety of ideas Wednesday night to improve the town's plan to regulate parking on the street which currently has no marked spaces.

Thomas Viljac suggested making Calhoun one-way.

"This is an important option to consider," he said. "This plan affects businesses overnight."

Viljac, whose restaurant The Dispensary is located on Calhoun, is the commission's chairman but spoke as a member of the public after recusing himself.

Several residents suggested adding a four-way stop at Calhoun and Lawrence streets to slow traffic and open up a few more parking spaces.

"It's a miracle we haven't dealt with a child getting hit or a safety issue on the street," said former councilman Charlie Wetmore.

Many agreed, pointing to the drivers who speed past May River Montessori.

Others suggested adding angled parking on both sides of the street.

Assistant Town Manager James Ayers told the commission he'd consider all of the suggestions, but said the problem required a long-term study to produce a long-term solution.

The town is putting together such a study now. It is expected to be finished by late spring or early summer, said town spokeswoman Debbie Szpanka.

Town Council will vote on the short-term solutions at its Oct. 8 meeting.


Video: Business owners discuss parking concerns (map below video)


Map: Calhoun Street parking additions

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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