Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Who decides whether library parking lot can be used for apt.’s overflow parking?

The actual status of who would make a decision about parking at the Mebane Public Library appeared somewhat muddled this week.

According to the developer’s submitted plans, he has “worked out an agreement” with the Mebane Public Library to use the library’s 54-space parking lot for “overflow parking.”

City officials said during the planning board meeting Monday night that city attorney Lawson Brown had concluded that the “lessee,” i.e., the library, would have authority to make decisions about parking on the grounds of the library.

Mebane city attorney Lawson Brown
Director of Alamance Libraries Susana Goldman

In a subsequent interview with The Alamance News, Brown acknowledged that to be his conclusion.

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However, the head of the county’s library system pointed back to the city itself as the arbiter of who would decide who would be allowed to park there.

In a brief interview with The Alamance News, Susana Goldman, the director of Alamance County’s Libraries, denied any knowledge of the apartment development’s request for spillover parking on the grounds of the Mebane Public Library.

In an interview with The Alamance News, Goldman also disputed the notion that she has any authority over the dispensation of space in the library’s parking lot.

“I’m not involved in that decision,” she told the newspaper on Wednesday, “because it is located on city property.”

Goldman added that she has also received no word from anyone at the Mebane library about a pending request for permission to use the parking lot.

[Story continues below photographs.]

Library and city officials currently disagree on who should decide about allowing a private apartment complex to use the Mebane library’s parking lot as an “overflow” lot – with each deferring to the other.
Above is a sign that currently prohibits any parking except for library use and also bans overnight parking, which the apartment complex would want to use. A similar sign facing West Washington Street (below) is somewhat obscured by overgrown shrubbery.

City attorney Brown was also asked whether a private entity could legally be given special access to the library’s parking lot – either by the city directly or by the library as “lessee” – inasmuch as the state’s constitution specifies that any use of public funds – such as use of city tax dollars to construct the library and its parking lot – must be for a “public purpose.”

Brown said he suspected he would be doing further research on the issue in anticipation of similar questions emerging from city council members when the rezoning issue comes before the council, now scheduled for its August 1 meeting.

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