BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon City Council is set to vote on an ordinance Thursday that would tighten existing parking regulations — a measure city officials hope will improve the flow of visitors in and out of the downtown area.
The ordinance will also give the city the ability to issue tickets to parked cars for inspection or registration violations.
At council’s meeting Thursday, Dec. 7, city attorney Tom O’Neill reviewed a draft of Ordinance 422, which will amend the city’s main parking ordinance, Ordinance No. 409, which is available on www.buckhannonwv.org. The new ordinance has four parts.
First, it will establish metered parking in a portion of the Spring Street lot by the Salvation Army and free two-hour parking in the remainder of the lot.
“Parking in those [metered] spaces will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at
25 cents an hour, and that is to accommodate downtown residents in particular,” O’Neill explained. “In all other spaces in other lots, with certain exceptions … there’s no parking allowed between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.”
The metered part of the Spring Street lot will accommodate 18 parked vehicles, finance
The second part of the ordinance states that the parking lot across from the post office on Spring Street is only available for two-hour parking. Similarly, parking on city streets — and specifically in Buckhannon’s C-1 Commercial District — is limited to two consecutive hours in any 24-hour period.
That means once you’ve used up your two hours, you can’t return to any free space downtown until the next day.
“What the parking committee was attempting to do … was come up with parameters to try to discourage rolling and moving around the corner, that kind of gaming the system on parking downtown,” O’Neill said. “When we say now, ‘You’re limited to two hours, that doesn’t mean two hours and then, ‘Hey, the space in front of me opened up so I’m just going to pull up and get another two hours.’ Any discrete vehicle is limited in the C-1 Commercial zone to two hours cumulative in these lots and on the street.”
Third, the ordinance says that vehicles parked in all lots — with the exception of Lot 6, beside the old bank drive-thru on Madison Street — must be moved for a minimum of 30 minutes within any given week.
“In all lots except Lot 6, which is going to be a permanent lot, the vehicles must be moved at least weekly,” O’Neill said. “So, obviously if you’re in other lots, the vehicles are going to be moved anyway, because you can’t be there from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., but this is more geared toward Section A of Lot 3 (the metered parking on Spring Street). You just can’t park there forever; you’ve got to move it at least once a week for 30 minutes.”
Finally, people who park downtown should ensure their vehicle inspection stickers and registrations are up to snuff.
“The ordinance clarifies that any vehicles that are parked in city lots must be properly registered and inspected, according to the laws of the state in which the vehicle is titled,” O’Neill said. “That’s just a tool to give parking enforcement and the police department an opportunity to flag down vehicles that may be deemed unsafe and out of compliance.”
That means the city will be able to issue tickets to cars with expired registrations or inspection stickers.
O’Neill said all other aspects of the parking ordinance — as outlined in Ordinance 409 — will remain unaltered.
On Thursday, Jenkins said the city is simply trying to keep parking spaces open for out-of-towners who come to visit the city.
“The purpose is to keep the circulation of patrons going and give people an opportunity to park in our lots for free,” Jenkins said.
According to Ordinance 409, penalties for violating the parking ordinance vary according to the offense, ranging from warning citations to $500 fees. If approved at the Dec. 21 meeting, a second reading and possible adoption of the ordinance would take place at council’s first meeting of 2018 on Jan. 4.
In other news, O’Neill mentioned that council will soon vote on an ordinance that will outlaw attempts to dispose of asbestos at the city’s waste transfer station.
“We want to deter any attempts to pass asbestos through the transfer station,” O’Neill said at the Dec. 7 meeting. “We’ve had two attempts recently and attempting to remediate that is costly and time-consuming.”