02/12/07 — City plans new set of fines for signs

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City plans new set of fines for signs

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 12, 2007 1:49 PM

Signs have been ordered, new parking spaces created and fines handed out.

But Goldsboro Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra said there is still work to do before the 900-plus violators of handicapped parking standards within the city are cleared.

Last summer, members of the Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities reported that all of the city's public schools and 727 local businesses failed to meet federal handicapped parking requirements.

The survey took more than 200 hours to complete.

The problem committee members found, in 417 cases, was a complete lack of signs -- and most of the ones that had them failed to meet size, color and height specifications.

City Council members said they were shocked by the group's findings and charged the Inspections Department with resolving the issue -- via warning letters and fines.

"We divided the original violators up into a two-phase operation," Cianfarra said.

The violations were sorted by severity.

Then, last August, those guilty of "the most grievous violations," about 450 businesses, received letters listing specific violations and threatening daily $50 fines after a 30-day grace period.

Thursday, Cianfarra said officials made their point.

"Close to 90 percent of that original 450 have made an effort to correct all deficiencies," he said. "As far as the worst violators, we have corrected just about all the ones that needed to be corrected."

There are still a few, though, who have seemingly ignored the letter. Those businesses, Cianfarra added, have received $50 civil penalties.

"We will continue to fine them until they meet the requirements," he said. "We could go back every day if we wanted to, but we're really out to resolve the issue, not to do that."

Now that the majority of the more severe cases have been resolved, Cianfarra said he and his staff are sending out the final 450 letters to those businesses with minor discrepancies -- signs that are blocked by shrubs, are the wrong height or are outdated.

"Most of these are violations because a sign is being blocked by bushes," he said. "Then you've got some that are outdated and no one can tell because they are blocked."

And while these offenses are far less problematic than the first 450, Cianfarra said his team will treat them the same as the first group.

"What we've done is given people 30 days to correct the problem," he said. "After that time, we'll do another sweep."

Those who fail to comply will be fined $50.

Cianfarra said he feels confident that eventually, most every business in Goldsboro will meet the requirements handed down by the federal government.

Even so, he fears that one issue will never be resolved.

"Unfortunately, non-handicapped people are parking in handicapped areas," he said. "Police enforcement can only go so far."