BUCKHANNON – Action on a law designed to protect the parking spaces of residents who live in the vicinity of West Virginia Wesleyan College was again stalled Thursday after city council voted to table the measure.
Discussions focused on how – and even if – city officials want to pass an ordinance limiting parking surrounding the college to residents who live on nearby streets only have been ongoing since this spring.
Dr. Tim Reese first complained to the Consolidated Public Works Board that Wesleyan students were parking in front of his and his neighbors’ residences on College Avenue.
That pattern, Reese subsequently told council, resulted in College Avenue residents finding it difficult, if not impossible, to park anywhere close to their homes and apartments.
After consulting with college administrators, city officials drafted an ordinance that mayor David McCauley has described as a compromise between local residents and the college: a two-hour parking policy.
At council’s Thursday evening meeting, city attorney Tom O’Neill reviewed the latest version of the ordinance.
According to its title, the ordinance would provide for resident-only parking on certain streets in the city of Buckhannon in the vicinity of Wesleyan and authorize the addition of signage designating those areas as “residential parking only.”
“With respect to this draft, we’ve gone to two-hour parking unless you are a resident displaying a placard,” O’Neill told council. “It will be two placards per lot unless the lot is required by the zoning ordinance to have off-street parking.
“So if it’s a multi-unit building, you don’t get two spots per unit; you only get two for the whole lot if you have that off-street parking,” he added.
Although council originally considered a much broader ordinance that included multiple streets, O’Neill explained that group had been narrowed down to just four sections of roadway.
Should the law pass, it would only be applicable to the sections of College Avenue, Barbour Street, Fayette Street and Pocahontas Street between South Florida Street and Meade Street, according to a copy of the ordinance.
Additionally, the two-hour parking policy would only be effective between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday – and council would have the ability to suspend the policy on a case-by-case basis.
“It may be suspended by council upon motion for special events … on a case-by-case basis,” O’Neill said.
McCauley noted college officials had not yet had an opportunity to review the latest draft and suggested council table a first reading until the Oct. 18 meeting. A second reading would then take place Nov. 1, should the ordinance pass on first reading.
“I don’t mean to kick the can any further down the road,” McCauley said.
Councilman Robbie Skinner made a motion to table the current draft to give Wesleyan officials a chance to look it over and comment on it.
City recorder Colin Reger seconded Skinner’s motion, which passed unanimously.
Reese, the College Avenue resident who has been championing the ordinance since the spring, asked for clarification on how permits would be assigned.
O’Neill said a single-family unit on a lot would be eligible for two permits, but a multi-unit dwelling (such as an apartment building) would be able to secure two permits per unit – unless the owner of the building is required by zoning code to provide off-street parking.
Reese asked about the possibility of additional permits for tenants, who he distinguished from permanent residents.
“I just think that there are people living in those apartments that – there’s a couple of them that have two cars and they have two jobs as a opposed to a house with four kids and five cars … they should be eligible for a tenant permit that allows them to park on the street if they need to,” Reese said. “That’s just a suggestion.
“It’s this close” to being acceptable, Reese added.
According to the ordinance, violators of the proposed law would receive a citation and be fined $25.