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Downtown parking limit enforced

FAIRMONT — If you’re shopping in Fairmont’s downtown area, be mindful of your time. That’s the message many people are receiving in recent days via bright pink warning signs from the Fairmont Police Department. A two-hour time limit on parking has been in place for the downtown area many years, however, the department’s lack of a code enforcement officer for the past year has led to a somewhat relaxed attitude, according to Police Cheif Michael Hunter.

The warning asks that people take note of posted time restrictions, and refers to Fairmont City Ordinance 16-29, which states:

The chief of police may, when authorized by the council, designate certain streets, blocks, or portions of streets or blocks, as five-minute, ten-minute, fifteen-minute, thirty-minute, one-hour, two-hour, four-hour, six-hour, or eight-hour limited time parking zones and shall mark by appropriate signs any zones so established. Such zones shall be established whenever necessary for the convenience of the public or to minimize traffic hazards and preserve a free flow of traffic. It is unlawful for any person to park a vehicle in any such limited-time parking zone between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on any weekday for a longer period than is specified on the posted sign giving notice of designation of such a zone.

The warning also states that a limited-time parking citation fine is $25. Hunter stated that the limit has always been in effect.

“We’ve addressed it on a complaint basis and have been asked to be proactively enforcing that for the downtown area, and our community service officer is addressing the parking concerns under the posted time limits,” he said.

The time limit may seem counterintuitive to efforts encouraging people to shop in the downtown area, but Hunter shared that people are welcome to bring their concerns to the Fairmont City Council.

“If people have concerns about whether the time limit should be expanded or removed at all, we would refer them to their city council members for discussion since they’re the ones that would be responsible for any modifications to the parking ordinance for the downtown area.

“That has never been lifted, it’s always been posted,” he continued. “We just haven’t had a parking enforcement officer for the last year. Our officers would address the time limit on a complaint-related basis, and now we have a person that’s going to maintain regular review and enforcement of that time limits downtown.

“We started out with a couple of days of warning reminders for vehicles just to get people back into the habit of remembering that it is an ordinance for downtown that has been posted. It’s always been in effect and it’s never been lifted.”

Hunter also said that the department is always asking for such complaints and assistance with parking issues in the downtown area so that they don’t have to constantly address enforcement measures with parking.

“If people help us out it works great,” he said. “I know the downtown businesses appreciate it, but if people have concerns about the limit they can address those with the city council.

“We hear both sides of it,” he continued. “We hear that downtown businesses want that enforced so their customers have areas to park. We also hear from people that are patrons of the downtown businesses that say two hours just isn’t long enough for them to enjoy the downtown area without being on a time clock.”

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