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State and local officials are reviewing plans to open several main roads and parts of three central parking lots in New Town to timed parking that would range from 30 minutes to four hours per space.
Timed parking was first implemented in New Town in 2014. The parking spaces along Main Street were given four-hour time limits, and that system has worked well, according to Randy Casey-Rutland of Town Management, which helps manage the James City County mixed-use development.
“We’ve gotten more turnover and less people soaking up parking places all day long,” he said. “We haven’t had any complaints or problems from the public.”
Currently there are about 129 parking spaces subject to the four-hour restriction. The new plan would push that to 200 spaces allowed to have timed parking, with on-street parking along New Town Avenue, Discovery Park Boulevard, Courthouse Street, Foundation Street and Center Street each allowed to be limited.
A handful of spaces closest to commercial areas in a lot to the southwest of Sullivan Square and in the large lots on either side of Courthouse Street would also be allowed to have time limits, but those spaces represent only a sliver of the total available spaces in those lots.
The expansion of timed parking into the parking lots and Courthouse Street was approved by the James City County Planning Commission at a meeting Wednesday. Those lots and streets are privately owned, so only planning commission approval is required.
The rest of the project will require permission from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the James City County Police Department.
A specific timeline for expanding timed parking has not yet been established, though Casey-Rutland said it is likely to begin this year.
He said it has always been New Town’s intention to add more timed parking as the development has grown. He said occupancy levels have reached a point where it makes sense to increase timed parking in commercial areas to increase foot traffic and turnover.
“It just seemed like the right time to continue to move forward,” he said. “It’s been in process.”
He said that while the application seeks to expand it to several areas, it will not all happen at once.
“It’s going to come and go because the business that occupies different spaces can come and go,” he said. “Time limited parking isn’t something that’s fixed and never changes.”
WYDaily spoke with several merchants on Main Street whose businesses are located in the heart of the current timed parking area, and they all said the biggest issue with timed parking so far has been employees of New Town businesses who use the timed spaces.
“The only reason we need it is for the employees,” said Amanda Wilbourne, the owner of the Nautical Dog. “I think the signs need to be more visible.”
There are currently several small signs installed by the side of Main Street indicating the four-hour time limit. Wilbourne said most customers are in and out of the area within an hour.
Jeff Waters, the co-owner of fashion boutique Blue Green Aqua, said the timed parking has worked well so far.
“I’ve never had anyone complain about parking,” he said. “I think [timed parking] is very legitimate, especially in commercial areas.”
He said “a lot” of people who work in New Town businesses tend to use the timed spaces along Main Street. Sande Hubbard, owner of the Bead Tender, shared Waters’ complaint about employees, adding she would ultimately prefer to see no timed parking.
“I would hope somebody wouldn’t pull up here and park and shop for nine or 10 hours,” she said. “I would prefer no limitations. My customers are usually in and out in 20 or 30 minutes.”
She said when she holds classes and her customers are in the store longer, she encourages them to use the large parking lots located behind her business.
Enforcement for timed parking is left up to New Town. Offenders are given warning slips, with towing a possibility for those who continually exceed the limit.