Just south of St. Francis de Sales Church in East Walnut Hills, the Woodburn Brewery is expected to open in June. "The goal is to make (the neighborhood) pedestrian friendly," says Maria Walley of DeSales Corner Development Corp. (Andy Foltz for WCPO)

East Walnut Hills Assembly to start charging for previously free parking near Woodburn Avenue

CINCINNATI -- A parking battle is brewing in the up-and-coming neighborhood of East Walnut Hills, where business leaders worry that charging to park could cut into their bottom lines.

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The East Walnut Hills Assembly plans to start charging motorists on June 14 for using the parking lot near O Pie O between Madison Road and Myrtle Avenue as well as the lot next to the Woodburn Brewery.

Parking was free there for years until the assembly set a $5 parking fee last fall. They quickly scrapped that due to public outcry, and business leaders are now proposing a 50 cent per hour fee, capped at $5 per day.

"Until we get those five storefronts (on Woodburn Avenue and Madison Road) filled, I don't think it's right to charge as much as the assembly is currently asking for,” said Woodburn Brewery co-owner Dennis Chacon. β€œIn fact, we think it's going to scare away some of the businesses that might otherewise come in and start shops and restaurants.”

More than 700 people have already signed a petition urging the East Walnut Hills Assembly to reconsider charging for the lots. The Assembly meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month (except July and August) in the St. Francis de Sales grade school cafeteria, so we can expect to see this issue further discussed on June 7.