Councilman proposes downtown parking restrictions

When trucks and other long vehicles park in downtown Seymour parking spaces — particularly diagonal ones — they impede traffic, causing motorists to go left of center to get around them.

After several people addressed the issue with him, Seymour City Councilman Drew Storey proposed making an amendment to city code in regards to parking regulations.

Due to concerns with traffic safety, he suggested an update to the ordinance to limit oversized vehicle parking on certain city streets.

Where painted lines are used to designate parking spaces, whether for parallel or angled parking, all vehicles shall be parked wholly within a single parking space and shall not be parked in more than one parking space, according to the amendment to the ordinance.

Also, no vehicle parked in a painted angled parking space shall protrude past the designated painted space. If a vehicle is unable to fit completely within a painted angled space, it shall be parked within a city parking lot or a painted parallel parking space that can accommodate the entire vehicle without it occupying more than one parking space.

The fine for an ordinance violation would be $10.

During Monday night’s meeting at city hall, the council narrowly voted 4-3 for the first reading. Councilmen Chad Hubbard and Seth Davidson and President Dave Earley all cast dissenting votes.

The second reading will be done during the next council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Aug. 28.

At Monday’s meeting, Storey showed councilmen a picture of a truck that would be in violation of the ordinance if it passes.

“I’m just a little nervous about penalizing people because they are going to find out the hard way,” Councilman Bret Cunningham said. “Are we going to spend money on signage to post this on every block, as well, because this is not something that’s common in other communities, I believe. This is the first that I’ve heard. I see what we’re trying to accomplish. I still look at the community we live in, and those type of trucks are so common.”

Areas of downtown where motorists have to go left of center when vehicles extend beyond parking spaces include the 100 block of East Second Street and 200 block of South Chestnut Street.

“I do drive that at least once a day every single day, and many people have trouble driving anyway, so I see people drive left of center when there’s nobody sticking out because they don’t have that depth perception necessarily,” Cunningham said. “That’s always going to be a constant. It’s traffic flow control. It could help slow things down sometimes. … This is a tough one for me.”

Councilman Jerry Hackney asked about other options, and Clerk-Treasurer Darrin Boas said making one side of the street angled parking and one side parallel as it is in the 100 block of North Chestnut Street is an option.

Storey said that was mentioned in the Seymour Main Street streetscape master plan the council recently adopted. Cunningham said the parking issue has been brought up during Main Street meetings multiple times, too.

“There are a lot of improvements that are anticipated in the downtown, so I think walkability will in fact be influenced and enhanced over the years, but I can tell you right now, we do in fact have a left of center problem,” Storey said. “As traffic has in fact increased downtown, we have more cars going down there. My plan I’m getting to here is keeping folks not going from left of center is good for pedestrians, it’s good for the people that are driving.”

Hackney said in the downtown, most people are going to park as close as possible so they can get to their destination.

“Is this going to hurt our downtown businesses more than it’s going to help? That’s my fear,” Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson said in regards to the ordinance amendment.

Seymour resident Tyler Henkle said while recently driving in the 100 block of South Chestnut Street, a delivery truck was parked in the street to make a delivery to a store, and he had to go into the other lane to get around it. Another vehicle traveling south had to stop so he could go around the delivery truck.

Nicholson said many downtown businesses have accessible alleys that the delivery vehicles should use, and Seymour Police Department Chief Greg O’Brien said impeding the flow of traffic already is a ticketable offense with a $150 fine and an immediate tow.

Another city resident, Les Linz, asked about offering a shuttle similar to what the hospital has that would pick people up from downtown parking lots and take them to their destinations. Oversized vehicles could park in the city parking lots, alleviating traffic flow because they wouldn’t be parked downtown, he said.

After nearly 20 minutes of discussion, Storey made a motion to pass the ordinance amendment on first reading, and Hackney seconded. Those two, Cunningham and Councilman Matt Wheeler cast the yay votes.