CORNELIUS — Commissioner John Bradford hopes when a disagreement blows over in the Harborside neighborhood, residents will be able to have a community party and laugh about it.

Until then, town staff offers continued guidance for the Harborside Homeowners Association as it works to appease residents about the safest parking practices.

Commissioners asked the HOA on March 17 to work with staff to brainstorm a few options. HOA President Michelle Crawford said residents would then vote on their favorite through a private ballot counted by the neighborhood company, Henderson Properties.

Only if that doesn’t work will commissioners take action.

“The neighborhood should work it out themselves,” Commissioner Woody Washam said. “If that’s not possible, we’ll deal with it – we’ll have to deal with it, since it’s a public street.”

Resident Bob Houck approached the board with a petition and some pointed words about his HOA’s decision to cut parking along the main drag, Harborside Drive, without getting resident approval. As a homeowner living directly off West Catawba Avenue, he and 23 others have limited options when it comes to parking, confined to the driveway, garage and narrow alley behind the row of townhomes. Others in the neighborhood are able to park in front of their homes in designated street parking.

Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant presented the timeline of their work with the HOA on March 17, including taking over the street last fall and enforcing no parking on Harborside Drive.

He explained the town policy enacted in 2005 gives the HOA the authority to make requests regarding issues affecting traffic calming, which includes road conditions and safety concerns. Grant noted that not every resident has to be satisfied with the request.

Houck, who was in attendance, again made it clear he was not.

“The city should tell us how to park on a city street and the HOA should stay out. I don’t think residents should have to vote on a city street,” he said. “Forget the HOA. Forget my petition. They are city streets so please tell us how to park and not to park.”

HOA board members Crawford and Elizabeth Fulk both said it was a safety issue that spurred their decision, saying people couldn’t see around the parked cars and that vehicles were left too close to the fire hydrants and intersection. They hope the options and private vote will make residents happier than being “pressured” into signing a petition.

Commissioners and Mayor Chuck Travis questioned whether the parking ban was for aesthetic reasons, to which Crawford agreed that was partially the reason, calling it “an unorganized car lot.”

Among the options is to make the cross street Viewpoint Lane one-way so people won’t have impeded sight and to offer other flows of traffic that would allow for some on-street parking on Harborside Drive. Otherwise, visitors and overflow cars must continue to park on other streets in the back of the neighborhood. 

Resident Mia Haynes said that simply hiding the cars from view doesn’t fix the issue.

Bradford added they should consider that property values might decrease if word gets out that parking is an issue for people on West Catawba and people don’t want to buy the homes.

“It seems like we have a smart group of people here being professional,” Bradford said. “Let us make recommendations to address the fire hydrant, turns and setbacks and bring that to you then, and then amongst yourselves you can work out what the right answer is.”

Commissioners agreed with the notion, changing only that the HOA would come to town staff with the options, which must then be approved by town staff prior to the resident vote.