J.L. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Mister Condo, I have been living at a condo complex with my mother for about 5 years and have had very little problem with parking. However, one night after school, I came home to a new fire lane which extends nearly 40 feet! Is that even legal? Also, I came home to parking lines painted, one in front of each garage however between me and my neighbor 2 spots were painted. I believed that my property was foundation to foundation, however the line was drawn from half of a foundation to the edge of my garage, which makes 9 foot which is code. However, I measured the ones in between me and my neighbor and one is 8′ and the other is 8′ 2″. Now by my town’s code it is 9′. I have asked multiple times to get this fixed and their answer was the condo complex is considered unfinished so the town would say this is okay. What are my other options? Thanks!
Mister Condo replies:
J.L., what a disappointment it must have been to have your parking situation changed so drastically. I hate hearing stories like this where it seems unit owners are simply forced to accept changes they never agreed to. Let’s break down the events as your have reported them and talk about what, if anything, can be done.
Your first question is about a fire lane and its length. Fire lanes and their length are generally dictated by the local municipality. A quick phone call to your local fire department’s regular phone number may clear this up. DO NOT CALL 911 for this! This is not an emergency. The fire department can do one of three things. They can tell you it is fine. (Answered) They can tell you it is too long. (Contact your Board and tell them) They can tell you that it is on private property and that it is not their decision. (Contact your Board and ask them to consider shortening it) Whichever thing they tell you, you will have your answer and you can then take appropriate action. All three answers pretty much put it out of your hands but at least you will have an answer.
Your parking space line painting situation is another matter altogether. I would ask you to review your condo documents and see if your exact parking space size and placement is listed within. If it states you have a 9’ wide driveway of a certain length, you may have legal grounds to proceed. Contact an attorney and take appropriate action. If it doesn’t you may still wish to speak with an attorney to see if the association’s argument that town code doesn’t have to be followed because the development is unfinished holds any water. Again, your local fire department may have something to say about parking density and building safety. Time and time again, parking is a chief concern for condominiums because so many people live so close together. You should be entitled to safe access and egress to your vehicle and your unit. Creating undersized parking spaces is a long-term formula for big problems. I hope your association will correct this for you. As usual, ask politely but follow up with a threat of lawsuit if being nice doesn’t work. Do you know which company performed the line striping? Even they might be worth getting an opinion from. If they regularly line parking lots, they should know what is and isn’t acceptable, even in unfinished developments liking yours. Best wishes.