The three-hour restricted parking rules for curbside parking in downtown Elkin were made a little stricter Monday night in a 4-1 vote of the Elkin Board of Commissioners.
According to town attorney Raymond “Scooter” Parker and Laura Gaylord, community and Main Street manager for the town who is enforcing the parking ordinance, an issue already has arisen where people who work downtown or stay parked there all day are parking in one spot for two or three hours and then moving down a spot or two and staying there two or three hours more.
“To remove all doubt, we added an explanation to the ordinance that defined a restricted parking area being designated by signs in each block,” said Parker, who explained to the commissioners new paragraphs have been added to the ordinance as well better defining restrictions to downtown parking.
The new paragraphs regulate the time limit to three hours throughout the day, not three hours at a time. “The intent of this ordinance is to limit the parking of a vehicle in the entire Restricted Parking Area for the designated time period,” it reads. “For example, an owner or operator of a motor vehicle cannot extend the total designated time limit by moving the vehicle from one parking space to another parking space in the Restricted Parking Area. Nor can they move to a different block within the restricted area to reset the clock.”
The ordinance further states the three-hour time is cumulative between the times designated on signs, which is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Those with a need to park longer times during the business day can do so in public parking lots, according to the ordinance, which have no time limits.
Gaylord said she drives through the restricted area in the mornings and checks the cars parked, and then checks two or three more times during the day. If she sees there is violation, she takes a picture of the parked vehicle to record the time and then goes back hourly to monitor its status and after the time limit is exceeded she leaves a warning notice the first time. After the first violation, the vehicle operators will begin being fined.
“If I see a consistent issue, I’ll go after it,” she said of frequent violators of the ordinance.
But Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman was not in favor of approving the new wording in the ordinance, citing concerns that downtown visitors couldn’t get their hair done, go down the street and enjoy lunch and then shop later in the day without violating the ordinance.
“I hate to even talk about this. It bothers me the way it is written,” said Whitman.
The ordinance was created in response to concerns of some downtown business owners who said their business was hurting because employees and owners of other businesses downtown were parking for long times, sometimes all day, in front of their stores rather than parking in public parking lots.
A motion to approve the new language in the ordinance passed 4-1 with Whitman voting against the wording being added.
Board retreat topics finalized
The board of commissioners will hold its annual board retreat Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Elkin Center on North Bridge Street, and Monday night the topics for the meeting were finalized.
On the agenda for the day-long retreat will be discussion on the National Flood Insurance Program, an auditors presentation, a financial overview by Town Manager John Holcomb, an update on Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority projects which impact Elkin, an overview of the Connect NC Bond, a demonstration of the in-car and body cameras recently purchased by the police department, updates on grants and funding options and an update on volunteer firefighter recruitment efforts.
Longer time has been allotted for discussion of a memorial policy for donations of park benches and tables on town property, following an incident in the fall where a bench was placed in Elkin Municipal Park prior to obtaining approval from the town and was removed, causing backlash from supporters who wanted to keep the bench in the park and who said it was removed due to the use of a Bible verse on the bench.
Another topic with a longer discussion time set aside is an update on the town’s capital improvement plan.
A working lunch will include an update on the state’s Powell Bill funding, which provides funding to municipalities for street maintenance for roads for which the municipalities take responsibility.
Holcomb said other topics which are planned as just introductory topics for discussion will be the frequency of project update meetings, strategic planning focus and longer-term financial planning, a cash management and investment policy, a fund balance policy in preparation for bond issuance for the proprietary fund, succession planning for key leadership roles and resumption of the citizens academy.
The retreat is a public meeting.
Meeting starting time changed
While the commissioners were working to finalize retreat topics, one of the proposed issues on the starting time of monthly meetings ended up being addressed Monday night instead in an effort to allow more time for other discussions Friday.
While Elkin’s board now has meetings at 7 p.m., Holcomb told the board the average starting times of other towns is 6:30 p.m., with some meeting as early as 5:30 or 6.
Whitman was concerned having a meeting that early would keep working people from being able to make it. But Commissioner Terry Kennedy believed it would be better because “people get off work and go home and get settled in and do not want to come back out.”
Town Clerk Cathy Tilley said in talking with other towns, they reported having better attendance when moving meetings to an earlier time.
A motion was made to move the board’s monthly meeting time to 6 p.m. by Commissioner Bob Norton and seconded by Commissioner J.L. Lowe. It was approved unanimously and will be effective with the board’s March 14 meeting.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.