By Don Nelson

A seldom-used ordinance came before the Winthrop Town Council last week in the form of a request for relief from the town’s off-street parking requirements.

Ordinance 372 — so rarely invoked that no one on the council or the town staff could remember the last time it was used, if ever — allows a business to “mitigate” parking requirements by making a cash payment to the town.

In this case, North Cascades Mountain Hostel on Castle Avenue agreed to pay $3,000 to the town in lieu of providing two additional off-street parking spaces.

Mayor Dave Acheson said the ordinance was originally intended to apply, for the most part, to businesses along Riverside Avenue.

The ordinance provides that mitigation fees go into a fund for procurement and maintenance of public parking within the town. If the money isn’t spent within five years, it is refunded, with interest, to the business owner.

Some council members weren’t sure that’s such a good deal for the town and suggested revisiting the ordinance.

“I don’t like it much,” said council member Gaile Bryant-Cannon.

Nonetheless, the council approved the agreement, inasmuch as the ordinance is in place and its requirements were met.