By: Erik Burgess, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – Parking restrictions won’t affect Concordia this academic year, the City Council decided Monday night, after university officials raised objections last week to three-hour parking zones.

“Concordia made their needs known,” Councilwoman Nancy Otto said Monday. “There’s not enough room on their campus for parking.”

However, the three-hour restrictions will go into effect on the streets surrounding Minnesota State University Moorhead beginning this academic year.

The vote passed 8-0.

The council agreed to study and discuss three-hour parking zones surrounding Concordia in one year’s time, with implementation of the zones to be automatic on Aug. 15, 2013, unless council action is taken before that date.

The plan will include active and consistent parking enforcement in the area, odd-even street parking for snow removal purposes, installation of bicycle lanes on streets to be later decided, and enhanced curb and street painting. It was the result of a 2011 corridor study that was an attempt to address street congestion and parking problems near the two campuses.

Three-hour restrictions were planned for both campuses before university officials, including Concordia President William Craft, told the council a three-hour restriction would hurt the university.

In a letter sent to the council last week, Craft said rushing forward with three-hour parking around their campus “does not allow sufficient time for the college to develop and implement strategies that would reduce demand for parking.”

The university’s Provost and Dean Mark Krejci told the council that there are campus parking plans for the future that would lessen the need for three-hour parking.

Five residents spoke to the council Monday night regarding a yet undefined piece of the parking plan – the possibility of city-issued parking permits going to residents along the affected corridors. For many of them, not giving residents exception to the three-hour zones would be an unnecessary hardship.

Moorhead resident Kathy Karlsson said her neighborhood is slowly changing from a high density of renters to more single-family homes.

“I think that three-hour parking is fine, but if a homeowner can’t find a place to park … that disenfranchises the neighborhood that we are trying to bring back in,” Karlsson said. “So I would ask you put homeowners on your priority.”

The council made studying a permit system part of the resolution, with the potential for a short-term permit being issued in the near future while the city studies a long-term plan.