Jasper extends parking restrictions around square

Jasper extends parking restrictions around square

July 19th, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

This city-owned parking lot at Betsy Pack Drive and Griffith Street in Jasper, Tenn., with an 18-wheeler parked on it, has generated complaints from private property owners upset that such vehicles are being repaired and parking overnight there. Photo by Ryan Lewis

Jasper City Attorney Mark Raines

Jasper City Attorney Mark Raines

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. - City leaders are moving to extend existing parking restrictions around the courthouse square to other lots that Jasper owns.

Last week, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously on first reading to approve an ordinance that will update the existing municipal code for parking.

Mayor Paul Evans said last month that he had received complaints about commercial vehicles, including 18-wheelers, using a city parking lot at Betsy Pack Drive and Griffith Street for repairs and overnight parking.

City Attorney Mark Raines said there is "an ongoing issue" with the vehicles on the lot.

In the process of researching the matter, Raines said he discovered the city already has a provision in its municipal code for parking, but those rules now apply only to parking around the courthouse square.

"So, what I did was draft some language for an ordinance to change that part of the municipal code to expand that to any parking area the city owns," he said.

The new ordinance would restrict any parking by a vehicle larger than a half ton to loading and unloading.

Once the ordinance is enacted, the police can issue citations or even tow the vehicles, if necessary, Raines said.

"I felt like this was a better approach to it than just posting a sign down there," he said. "This actually changes our municipal code and updates it because the town has acquired other property since it was originally passed."

Violations of the parking rules will be subject to a $50 fine plus court costs for "each occurrence that they have," Raines said.

"If one of our officers issues a citation on Tuesday, and they leave it parked there till Sunday, that's six citations at $50 plus court costs each time," he said. "It can get really expensive, really quick."

If fines aren't enough to "get their attention," Raines said, the police have "full authority" to tow the vehicles.

"You let one get towed, and I think they'll get the message really quick," he said.

Evans recommended the board approve the ordinance, but said the parking lot has "some pretty-good-sized holes" that city workers will have to repair once the new rules are in place.

The ordinance will require two more readings and approvals to be enacted, officials said, and the second will occur at the next board meeting Aug 12.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.