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Potsdam eases some parking restrictions, adds others

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POTSDAM — New village businesses will be allowed to build fewer parking spaces because of a code update designed to reduce wasted land and ease the burden on Potsdam’s storm water drainage system.

The old law required commercial, retail, medical or professional businesses to have one parking space per 200 square feet of the building. This has been reduced to one space per 300 square feet, as part of a local law update passed by the village board last week.

“It seemed like we were telling people to pave more than they needed,” said village Administrator David H. Fenton. He used the village’s Lowe’s store, on Market Street, as an example. The home-improvement store was built in 2009 with a large, and often unfilled, parking lot out front.

“There was a whole lot of blacktop that wasn’t being used,” Mr. Fenton said.

The updated law also includes a host of new commercial parking regulations and restrictions.

Lots now must be located behind or to the side of buildings whenever possible, to promote more open space. Lots also must be separated from adjacent properties by a fence and must do whatever possible to prevent traffic jams.

In addition, parking lots must include a bike rack if they have more than 20 spaces.

Many of the restrictions are meant to mitigate the water being sent to Potsdam’s already overtaxed storm water drainage system. Blacktop runoff allows rain to run off the lot and into the village’s streets and drains. Fewer spaces means more open ground to absorb water.

In addition, parking lots must now be paved using permeable materials whenever possible, and the updated law requires storm water storage systems to be built underground beneath lots.

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