Changes may come by summer’s end to how the city enforces its time-limited parking restrictions along downtown-area streets.
They haven’t come yet, City Manager Tony Carson said Monday to dispel confusion around a memo that Tazewell County Administrator Wendy Ferrill sent to county employees last week.
For now, drivers needing more than two hours to conduct business or visit stores along Court Street and surrounding areas can continue to move their vehicles from one parking spot to another to avoid getting a ticket.
That will end if the City Council accepts changes Carson said he plans for the purpose of opening more parking spaces for businesses.
“Our object is to get people downtown” to patronize its stores, restaurants and other businesses, he said.
Available parking space is limited, however, by downtown workers — particularly county Courthouse employees — who park and re-park their cars during the day on Court and nearby streets rather than using lot spaces owned or leased by the county, Carson said.
He said he’ll propose a zoning change to restrict parking to a time limit within the zoned area, no matter where a vehicle is parked.
That time limit may expand, perhaps to three hours, Carson said.
He and Police Chief John Dossey will soon meet with downtown business operators to hear their suggestions. He’ll then take the issue to the Council’s Traffic Safety Committee, where “everything will be on the table” for discussion.
“The idea is to keep people from parking on the street while they work,” Carson said.
He met with Ferrill, he said, to alert county employees that the city has recently employed a parking enforcement officer after leaving the position vacant since late last year. Over that time, the two-hour parking limit largely went unenforced.
County Circuit Clerk Linc Hobson said Ferrill sent a memo to county department heads stating the city has returned to ticketing cars parked beyond two hours “whether they’re parked in the same spot or not.”
That is not the case, said Carson and police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles. Drivers won’t be ticketed, for now, “as long as they move their car,” Ingles said.
“I take full responsibility” for confusion stemming from Ferrill’s memo, Carson said. Ferrill was not available for comment Monday.
Hobson said Carson’s proposal would penalize people such as attorneys and others needing several hours or more in the Courthouse.
To avoid a parking ticket, “What are (those) folks supposed to do?” he asked.
Carson said he’ll seek “an all-encompassing solution” in his meetings with business owners, county officials and Council members over the next month.
That may include new signs around the Courthouse to direct those doing business there to available lot parking, he said.
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