BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Tenants of a Franklin Street apartment building came to the Bloomfield Township Council meeting on Monday, June 26, to ask that a newly imposed parking restriction be lifted because it eliminated overnight parking for apartment dwellers.
According to the residents of 165 Franklin St., known as Franklin Towers, street signs were posted Friday, June 23, limiting parking to residential permit holders on Willard Street and Kilmer Court, a cul-de-sac, between the hours of 2 to 5 a.m.
About seven residents were at Town Hall. They told the council that they are being forced to park, sometimes at night, farther away from where they live and asked what would happen if more roadways around Franklin Street apartments, in a domino effect, were given residential parking privileges. One resident said parking problems for tenants would devalue Franklin Towers.
But Mayor Michael Venezia did not hear the residents’ concerns directly because he was late to the meeting. His place was taken by Councilwoman Wartyna Davis. Venezia arrived at the conclusion of the public hearing. Once informed, he did, however, say there would be a compromise.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, June 27, the building manager, Nelson Feliciano, said Franklin Towers has 65 units and 41 parking spaces.
“What are they doing between two and five a.m. that cars cannot park there?” he said. “It’s not for cleaning.”
He said that Franklin Towers tenants need 15 to 20 street parking spots.
“Totally unfair,” he said of the parking restriction. “It affects property value if my tenants don’t have a place to park. How will I survive?”
Franklin Towers, he said, paid $140,000 in property taxes in 2016 but his apartment building is not the only one on Franklin Street and not the only one needing spaces.
“There’s one apartment building with 25 units and not one single parking spot,” he said.
He said he saw a flier on the apartment bulletin board that the signs were going up. He understood a tenant tried to get a permit but because they did not live on the affected streets, they were refused.
“In Franklin Towers, I came almost two years ago,” Feliciano said. “Some tenants have been here for 34 years. They had issues. We created an association to start off fresh. To show them good faith, we started addressing the issues.”
According to Feliciano, there are currently three vacancies at Franklin Towers with two more expected shortly.
“Not because of parking,” he said. “But parking is an issue. That’s why I’m involved with this. Not just for my building but for surrounding properties.”
The ordinance was passed May 22. It had been introduced by Township Administrator Matthew Watkins on April 3.
Venezia, in a telephone interview this past Tuesday, said the problem came to the attention of the township as a parking issue on Willis Street and Kilmer Court. The Bloomfield Police Department subsequently did a parking survey and determined that an overnight parking restriction would help to alleviate the problem.
“Two to five a.m. we consider overnight parking,” he said.
Venezia said the township will do another study to determine how many cars from Franklin Towers park on the affected streets. He said he knew parking was an issue for Willard Street and Kilmer Court residents but it was not until the night of the meeting that he heard it was an issue for Franklin Towers.
“We should have recognized the Franklin Street apartment buildings,” he said. “We recognize parking is an issue and try to come up with a balance.”