City changes parking policy

Downtown eating establishments soon will be able to request a 15-minute parking spot outside their locations for customers taking their order to go.

The Seymour City Council has ironed out an ordinance allowing for the change on a case-by-case basis. That ordinance will be up for a final vote at Monday’s council meeting.

The issue was brought up by downtown business owner Sandi Cockerham, who said she had received complaints from her customers at Java Joint, 120 N. Chestnut St., that they couldn’t stop for a cup of coffee in the mornings because there was no parking available.

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Currently, downtown parking is limited to two hours.

So far, Java Joint is the only business that has made such a request, said Councilman Brian D’Arco, who introduced the ordinance during a May 26 council meeting.

“Once it gets out, I have a feeling we will see more,” he said.

D’Arco said he supports the change as a way to help downtown businesses serve their customers better.

He’s not sure, however, if the change will work, he said, so it’s being done as one-year trial.

He doesn’t think it will get out of hand because there are businesses that have been downtown for years and haven’t asked for 15-minute parking, he said.

If the ordinance is approved, businesses serving food on Chestnut Street between Tipton and Third streets and on Second Street between Broadway and Walnut streets will be able to request 15-minute parking. Those requests would go to the Board of Public Works and Safety for review.

The ordinance would allow the city to designate one parking space per food service establishment as a 15-minute time-limited parking space with no more than two such parking spaces on each side of a block.

D’Arco said that would help cover areas where there are multiple food establishments on one street.

Several council members said they thought the potential of having four 15-minute parking spots in one block was too much and that it should be limited to two.

“We’re limited in the number of parking spots downtown already,” council President Jim Rebber said.

D’Arco said the ordinance could be amended on second reading to allow no more than one spot per street side.

“That would be my preference,” Rebber said.

If a business closes, the spot automatically reverts to 2-hour parking.

Downtown parking will continue to be monitored by Seymour Police Department, and tickets will be issued to violators. Fines are $3 if paid the day the ticket is issued and $5 if paid later.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.