How Big Should a Parking Stall Be?, Board Wonders

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – How big must a parking space be to be big enough? That’s a recent topic of interest among members of the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners.

Board President Bruce Foltz, both during the group’s first meeting this month and in one earlier session, suggested Lower Pottsgrove should consider asking developers and others dealing with real estate to create parking spaces (known in township law as “stalls”) that measure 10-feet-by-20-feet in size.

The reason? Popular rides like pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles keep growing in length and width, he said. Foltz may know the problem as well as anyone. He owns a generously sized pick-up.

Among new 2022 pick-ups available on the market, among the largest are deluxe models that measure about 8-by-19 feet (the width includes unfolded standard-size mirrors), according to manufacturers’ specifications. Among the largest 2022 SUVs are those that measure about 6-1/2-by-18 feet, a Sept. 22 (2021) U.S. News and World Report article states. It criticized the size as being “ungainly to maneuver in tight spaces.”

The township’s subdivision and land development ordinance (professionals consistently refer to it as the SALDO) currently calls for stalls of “not less than” 9-1/2-by-18 feet for regular pull-in parking at a 90-degree angle, 10-by-21 feet for parking at a 60-degree angle, and 10-by-19 feet at a 45-degree angle.

Solicitor Charles Garner advised board members they can ask for any size parking stall they find appealing, but unless its size is codified into Lower Pottsgrove’s SALDO and zoning ordinances their “request” likely would not be enforceable. Garner also suggested that, if board members want to change the ordinances, they should ensure the requirement can be waived if deemed appropriate.

Following Foltz’s earlier discussion of the subject, township Manager Ed Wagner researched parking space sizes in nearby municipalities. He discovered the minimum size required elsewhere is 9-1/2-feet-by-18 for regular parking, 10-feet-by-21-feet for a parking space at a 60-degree angle, and 10-feet-by-19-feet for parking at a 40-degree angle. “Not many have 10-by-20 spaces,” he reported.

The township municipal campus, progress on which has been temporarily suspended, includes 10-by-20 stalls, Wagner observed.

Besides vehicle size, there are other factors commissioners should contemplate before committing to larger-size stalls, township engineering representative Jim McCarthy of McCarthy Engineering Associates Inc. in Sanatoga told the board during its Oct. 4 (Monday) meeting. Enlarging stalls, for one, often results in fewer stalls per acre of parking, he noted. That potentially could prohibit some development.

Additionally, a proposed 10-by-20 stall could increase a parking lot’s impervious coverage by about 16 percent, McCarthy calculated. That could result in more storm water run-off and potentially affect drainage. Commissioners and the township Planning Commission have done their best in the past to ensure proposed commercial and residential developments avoid drainage complications.

One example: the township’s recent renovation to its most popular recreation facility, Gerald Richards Park on Buchert Road, included parking improvements on its northwest side that substantially eliminated asphalt and other impervious surfaces.

Foltz’s board colleagues indicated they wanted to give the matter more thought. Foltz and others agreed with Commissioner Ray Lopez’s proposal to “come back to it at another time.”

Photo by Tim Meyer via Unsplash, used under license