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The issue that just won't die: Atherton's Parker Avenue

Street issues still not resolved

Some residents of Parker Avenue in Atherton, a dead-end street of 21 homes on 7,800-square-foot lots, just want their street to stay the way it is. But others have been trying for years to get town regulations changed so they can further develop their property.

Town officials thought they had a solution to the problem in May when they decided to survey all the street's property owners, asking if they want 900 square feet of the town's right-of-way on the street to be transferred to each property owner. The town has a 70-foot-wide right-of-way for a paved road that is just 20 feet wide.

The results of the survey presented to the City Council at its July 16 meeting seemed clear: Only four residents said they were in favor of having the town give them the additional property, with 11 against it. Another six residents did not respond. Many residents noted they didn't want to pay extra property taxes that might result from the property transfer.

Some residents came to the council meeting and asked that, with the clear survey results, the matter finally be put to rest. "I beg you to please make this the last time that my neighbors have to appear before the council," said Marilee Gardner.

At the last minute, however, an email from a resident of the street sent the day before the council meeting said that county officials might be willing to take the property tax issue off the table. The email said that several more homeowners would be in favor of the property transfer with no additional taxes, and that three more residents had filled out surveys favoring the transfer.

In the end, the council did what the town's staff had asked them to do: nothing. The town is working on encroachment permit regulations, which would give official permission for use of the town right-of-way for some private uses.

Those regulations will come back in a few months. Council members said that at that point, if the situation has changed, they will once again revisit Parker Avenue.

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