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City puts clamp on parking lot

A commercial lot off Winslow Way violates zoning, city planners say.

A former mayor was ordered by the city to close an illegal parking operation on Cave Avenue by May 1.

“We determined there’s no proper permit for that use,” said city planning director Larry Frazier. “We can find no document to that affect.”

Owned by former Winslow mayor Alice Tawresey and her husband John, the nearly one-acre lot sits north of the John L. Scott real estate office on Winslow Way.

Lined by Scotch broom, the gravel lot was occupied by three cars Friday morning, but has a capacity for more than a dozen.

Frazier, in a letter to the Tawreseys, stated the property was not taxed as a commercial lot and determined that it is an “illegal ferry parking business.”

Tawresey and her husband were out of town and could not be reached for comment Friday, but have defended the use of their property in correspondence to the city.

“We are bewildered about the attack on our use of our property on Cave Avenue because, in our memory of Bainbridge Island, the use of that land has not changed,” they wrote to the city in late February.

The Tawreseys said the previous owner had allowed parking on the parcel since 1969. They also asserted that the property holds a permit for parking use.

“We should be allowed to continue to use our property because it is a permitted use on our property,” the Tawreseys wrote.

Jack Chamberlain, who owns a parking lot adjacent to the city’s parking area at the ferry terminal, initiated the city’s investigation into the Tawresey lot through a formal complaint late last year.

Chamberlin said he was initially told by city staff that a parking operation on the Tawresey property was permitted through a grandfathering rule.

He called that “nonsense,” asserting that “in 1987 there was no parking lot, and in ’88 there was.”

With the city tax rate on commercial parking operations recently leaping from 12 to 24 percent, Chamberlin said “no one should be able to skate by.”

“These are people operating an illegal parking lot,” he said. “Why shouldn’t they pay taxes like everyone else has to?

“If I’ve got to pay onerous taxes, so should they.”

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