As soon as signs are delivered and erected, three-hour parking limits will go into effect for curbside parking on select streets in downtown Elkin.
The parking restriction was approved unanimously by the Elkin Board of Commissioners during its Nov. 9 meeting following months of trying to come to some sort of agreement on what will work best.
Proponents of the restriction say they are not trying to penalize those who are shopping, eating and touring downtown, but instead it is a compromise on a way to discourage and regulate downtown property owners, employers and their employees who have been parking curbside for hours at a time in front of other people’s places of business.
Laura Gaylord, Main Street and community manager for Elkin, and others who asked for the new ordinance regulating parking said they’ve asked business owners and their employees to be courteous and not park where shoppers and visitors can easily access downtown, but without a rule enforcing the request, it is going on deaf ears.
“Now we are having to have an ordinance that makes parking enforceable,” said Commissioner Cicely McCulloch, also a downtown business owner. “We are having to kill a flea with a hammer.”
The streets with limited curbside parking times will be East and West Main Street, Church Street from Main to Market, and Court Street.
The new parking ordinance will allow for fines and warnings prior to a third violation in which the vehicle will be marked, tires locked and towed.
Gaylord will be enforcing and marking the vehicles, with the police department on call for use of the tire lock when it is needed, said Elkin Police Chief Monroe Wagoner during the meeting.
Mayor Lestine Hutchens said despite the ordinance being passed last week, the signs must be erected before it becomes enforceable.
Commissioner Bob Norton questioned whether three hours is too long, but those who helped research other towns’ ordinances, including Town Manager John Holcomb, said most towns have found two hours is not long enough because someone may want to get lunch and then go shopping or spend time downtown enjoying themselves.
“Two hours downtown can go fast,” Gaylord said. “If you go to The Liberty for lunch and then want to walk to the furniture store and look around. Statesville put in two-hour parking, along with scape revitalization, and they are unhappy and taking them down.”
When asked how downtown merchants feel about the change, Gaylord said after going around to downtown businesses the Friday prior to the meeting and leaving information, she had not heard anything back opposing the change.
“This is a civil penalty,” said Wagoner of the potential violations. “On the third offense, we lock the wheel or have it towed and they’ll have to pay a $50 penalty.”
So as to not make downtown look cluttered, Holcomb said the minimum to enforce the law will be one sign per block. Gaylord added that new directional signs will be erected pointing people to the six public downtown parking lots available for extended parking as well as new signs clearly identifying those lots on site.
“We have over 100 parking spots in those lots,” said Holcomb of the public town-owned lots.
Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman made the motion to approve the new three-hour parking limit ordinance, with Norton providing a second.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.