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Sweet-A-Licious owner Michelle Jack asks the city's Consolidated Public Works Board about the possibility of adding temporary 10-to-15-minute parking spaces at Thursday's meeting.

City parking ordinance under review after business owner inquires about temporary spaces

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Consolidated Public Works Board on Thursday agreed to review the current parking ordinance to see if there is a way to increase parking space turnover.

Owner of Sweet-A-Licious Michelle Jack attended the Aug. 27 Consolidated Public Works Board meeting to discuss adding 10- or 15-minute parking spaces on Main Street, similar to the carryout spaces that were available to restaurants during the lockdown.

“The city designated specific parking spots for all the restaurants, and they took that away,” Jack said. “I understand why they did it, but I was wanting to ask the city if they could allot a 10-minute parking spot on each side of the street on each block; that way it would not just benefit my business, but it would benefit many businesses on Main Street.”

Jack said there are instances when people need a quick place to park to run into a store and get back to their vehicle quickly.

“There are several people who come and just want to hop in and grab something and go, and with a two-hour parking ordinance, it’s very difficult sometimes to find a spot,” Jack said. “The longer COVID goes on, the more businesses are suffering, and I think anything we can do to try to help would be greatly appreciated.”

Jack also wanted to discuss how vehicles are violating the two-hour parking ordinance on the weekend because the parking enforcement officer only patrols on weekdays.

“She [the parking enforcement officer] keeps really good tabs during the week, but on the weekend, I am still having an issue,” Jack said. “The last two weekends, I’ve had a vehicle parked in the same spot for 10 hours one Saturday and 12 hours another Saturday, not being moved.”

Mayor Robbie Skinner said parking enforcement would fall to the city police, and he suggested a compromise for temporary 10-to-15-minute parking.

“My first thought is, we have a limited downtown parking, and we added a handicapped space on the middle block in front of the Innovation Center, so that took a spot,” Skinner said. “I’m wondering if we could compromise and think about one per block, instead of one per side because we’re talking about six spaces.”

Skinner said there are businesses on Main Street that require patrons to park their car longer than 10 or 15 minutes, so taking six spaces would be too many.

“Does this board have an interest in exploring an ordinance structure to develop a few 15-minute spaces?” Skinner said. “It doesn’t have to be 15, so we’ll say temporary – but does this board have an interest in exploring the opportunity to put some temporary spaces in?”

“I’m on board, but I think it’s opening up a can of worms,” City Recorder Randy Sanders replied. “You’re going to have people abuse it, and it’s going to be hard to enforce; you make a rule, you have to be able to enforce it, or it’s not a rule.”

Board member CJ Rylands said he would support two new temporary spaces.

“I would support two more additional spots – we have one in front of the courthouse and one in the middle block and one in the last block,” Rylands said.

Board member and city councilman CJ Rylands at Thursday’s Consolidated Public Works Board meeting.

He asked if an ordinance would be necessary to add these new spaces.

“If you are going to create a rule and you want it to be enforced, there would have to be an ordinance,” Director of Finance and Administration for the City of Buckhannon Amby Jenkins said. “It is going to be difficult for us to enforce this.”

Skinner suggested all the board members read over the current parking ordinance and talk to business owners on Main Street to come up with a plan.

“Let’s do some brainstorming, and let’s interact with some business owners, and let’s try to come up with a possible solution to better the chances of spot turnover because that’s really what we’re looking for,” Skinner said. “If we erect signage, I’m not sure it’s going to be followed, and if we don’t have something behind it, it’s definitely not going to be followed if we can’t have some way to enforce it.”

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