An aerial view of the City of Buckhannon's Dec. 3 Christmas Parade / Drone photo by Brian Bergstrom

New city ordinance: Park on a parade route and get towed

BUCKHANNON – If you park along a parade route in Buckhannon, you could soon find that your car has gone missing.

Buckhannon City Council recently approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit on-street parking during parades. City attorney Tom O’Neil summarized the ordinance during the council’s Jan. 20 meeting.

“In the event of an authorized or permitted parade, either by the council or by the Consolidated Public Works Board, there will be no on-street parking permitted along the parade route, beginning one hour before the scheduled start time of the parade and ending at the scheduled end time for the parade, or the time that the parade actually passes,” O’Neil said. “Enforcement of this should take place either through the parking enforcement officer, any authorized police officer of the City of Buckhannon or through any other authorized person designated by the mayor.”

In addition to towing offending vehicles, the ordinance will be enforced like other parking violations in the city, including two warnings which will eventually lead to a fine.

“The tow itself is provided in the ordinance and it clarifies the tows are going to be the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle — the City of Buckhannon will not be liable for towing or impounded fees,” O’Neil said. “While somebody may be towed, they would receive a warning instead of a fine in addition to the tow on a first or second offense, because the key for this ordinance is to get the vehicle cleared off the street, not necessarily that the vehicle owner gets fined.”

O’Neil said the ordinance will require three readings and could go into effect by March 2022.

Councilmember CJ Rylands noted that there are some people who live on parade routes and the city will have to warn them about moving their vehicles.

“I would suggest that we send out a brief letter to each person that lives along what we designate as a parade route in Buckhannon,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said. “It’s mostly just East Main Street, Main Street businesses, College Avenue, Camden Avenue and Pocahontas Street, because Marion and Kanawha have no parking anyway. We just need to notify the people who would be specifically affected.”

Skinner said he would also like to see sturdier signage letting people know about the new policy.

“This year and last year, we took pieces of paper and just taped them, and if it rains, it becomes a problem,” Skinner said. “I think we need to have some vinyl or something made to where we can zip tie it around the pole. We should make sure it doesn’t get too wordy — it just says no parking after this time, and it’s bold and easy to see.”

City Recorder Randy Sanders feels the ordinance is necessary to protect everyone attending a parade.

“In other communities, we’ve seen what happens to a vehicle that enters a parade route, and if there are vehicles parked and we say, ‘Well, we feel bad,’ and we don’t make them move, that vehicle becomes a weapon — somebody can break into it or the owner can start driving, maybe even innocently, to go someplace and injure people,” Sanders said. “I think it’s for the security of our citizens and the folks who visit Buckhannon that we have to move forward with this ordinance.”

O’Neil said it is unfortunate that an ordinance is necessary to keep people from parking on the street during a parade.

“People are being inconsiderate and leaving their vehicles out when it’s posted there’s no parking prior to a parade,” O’Neil said. “These notices are posted a couple of days before we have a parade, and, especially on Main Street, there’s no excuse.”

Amendments can be made to the ordinance before its third reading.

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