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Borough Council Fails To Override Hahn’s Parking Veto, Schedules Public Hearing On Ordinance

The State College Borough Council met Monday for a brief special meeting, considering a possible override of Mayor Don Hahn’s veto of the ordinance to establish a pilot parking permit program in the Highlands neighborhood.

The override ultimately failed with a 4-3 vote, as it required at least a 5-2 vote for passage. Councilmen Dan Murphy, Evan Myers, and Jesse Barlow voted against the override.

Due to the nature of the business at hand, Hahn handed the meeting over to Myers as council president. Myers gave each council member a chance to speak on the potential override before voting to avoid rehashing the original conversation around the ordinance that occurred last Monday.

Councilwomen Janet Engemen and Cathy Dauler criticized Hahn’s veto for being “arbitrary” and encouraged moving forward with the ordinance as council had passed it.

Hahn spoke at length about his experience on Borough Council, specifically with the diverters installed in the College Heights neighborhood in 1996. At the time, he voted in favor of the diverters, but as they were implemented, more and more community members spoke out against them.

“The opinion of neighborhood association leaders may be earnest and well-researched, but it is not definitive,” Hahn said, urging the council to refer the ordinance to the Transportation Commission and put a public hearing on its next meeting agenda.

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer berated Hahn, “reminding” him that he is no longer a member of council. She claimed anyone who can afford football tickets can also afford parking.

“If it doesn’t work, great. We’ll repeal it,” Lafer said of the pilot program. “It’s as simple as that.”

Councilman Jesse Barlow was something of a voice of reason as the last member to speak, explaining that the permit procedure and the limitation to just the Highlands neighborhood had not, in fact, been reviewed by the Transportation Commission. He also brought up the same equity issues he discussed last week, not only for fraternities but also for apartment-dwellers and others in the neighborhood besides single-family homes.

“I do want this resolved,” Barlow said, “but I want it done right.”

Council unanimously passed a motion to refer the ordinance back to the Transportation Commission for further review and also scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance for Monday, September 17. It’s likely council will vote again on the ordinance at that meeting.

Because the original effective date for the pilot program was October 1, if it’s passed at the September 17 meeting, the effective date will likely be pushed to mid-October. Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said staff will implement the program as soon as possible following passage.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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