COVINGTON — Covington Council continued to talk amongst themselves and with community members about possible parking prohibitions during their meeting Monday evening. The potentional restrictions are before the council in the form of two ordinances.
“We don’t want to make something that will punish people who come to Covington to shop,” Mayor Ed McCord said. McCord stated that it was the village’s and council’s goal to make an ordinance that was fair and enforceable.
“We want to hear what you want to say,” McCord said.
The first ordinance include prohibitions on the following:
• Parking on High Street from East Fountain Street to West Bridge Street between the hours of 2-5 a.m.
• Parking in village-owned parking lots between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with the exception of village employees
• Parking for longer than two hours in the downtown area.
The second ordinance includes prohibitions on the following:
• Parking on any street, alley, or public property for longer than 72 consecutive hours
• Parking any commercial vehicle with a GVWR over 25,000 pounds, boat, trailer, recreation vehicle, motor home, or similar vehicle on any street, alley, or public property for longer than four consecutive hours
• Parking in the front or side yard of any residentially zoned property for longer than two consecutive hours
Both of these ordinances allow a police officer to take immediate action if deemed necessary, including removing the vehicle and charging the person in violation with a minor misdemeanor. If the person in violation is a repeat offender, the offender can be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.
“There are a lot more vehicles downtown than there used to be,” Chief of Police Lee Harmon said. “People tend to store vehicles on the street for extended periods of time.”
Harmon stated that there are businesses and funeral homes downtown that are affected by this issue, citing one incident where a vehicle with kayak took up two parking spaces in front of a funeral home for an extended period of time.
“It was just outdated,” Harmon said about the village’s current parking ordinance, which was created in the 1970s.
Tom Carter, owner of Treasures on High, explained during the meeting that the two-hour street parking would potentially inhibit his business.
Carter parks his car on the street in front of his business on Sundays in order to let people driving by know that his business is open.
“It something that we do as a retailer to try and draw business,” Carter said.
A few times a year, Carter also parks a trailer in front of his store in order to unload new products into his store.
“It takes all day sometimes,” Carter said. “That only happens maybe 10 times a year.”
“I don’t think that would be any problem,” McCord said. “We’re not trying to punish people. We’re just trying to come up with an idea that’s good for businesses and good for you … We’re not going to go through and take licenses every hour.”
The village does not have the amount of officers and the current officers do not have the time to be strictly enforcing the two-hour parking rule downtown, which currently exists, according to McCord.
“This is generally complaint-driven,” Harmon said.
Council member Scott Tobias also noted that there has been no discussion to hire to a traffic control officer.
“I don’t like the two-hour restriction,” council member Joyce Robertson said. “We want to encourage people to come to Covington.” Robertson stated that the village wants people to visit the downtown, stay as long as they want in order to visit all of the shops, and then stay for dinner at one of their eateries.
“Why do we want to rush people out of a parking space?” Robertson said.
“We struggled with this number,” Village Administrator Mike Busse said.
When it came to the second ordinance, Covington resident Joe Speer spoke about concerns about the four-hour limit for trailers on city streets.
“When you’re talking four hours, that’s hardly any time to complete any kind of task at all,” Speer said.
“You’re actively doing something to that vehicle,” McCord said. “We have had complaints… where they’ll tend to leave (a trailer) there for two days.”
Council member Bob Weer also expressed concern about the ordinance telling residents what they can do on their privately-owned property.
“The idea was … we didn’t want have people to have trailers all over their property,” Busse said. “We’ve routinely received complaints for people who parked their vehicle in the front yard of their property.”
The council is going to consider removing the possible restriction of parking a vehicle on a resident’s side yard, although would mean that a resident could park a semi on their side yard.
“Let’s think about that one,” McCord said.
NOTE: This is part one in a two-part series covering the Monday, Dec. 21, Covington Council meeting. Part two will be in the Thursday, Dec. 24, edition of the Piqua Daily Call.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at 9937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall