City Council will move forward with parking ordinance

Featured Stories
BRCC parking workshop

FANNIN, Ga. — The Blue Ridge City Council held a workshop meeting on March 1 to discuss parking in the city’s downtown area. Business owners, citizens, and members of the county government attended the meeting to provide their input and hear the council discuss the potential parking ordinance.

Mayor Rhonda Haight began the meeting by explaining the reasoning behind the council’s push to create a parking ordinance and the goal of a potential ordinance. “My proposal is not that we have paid parking on East Main, but we have limited parking. And that way we’re having a higher turnover rate where people can come in, they can shop, and then they can go,” Mayor Haight said. She made note of the council’s desire to designate areas for downtown employees, encourage train patrons to park elsewhere, and make the downtown area more accessible to everyone. Mayor Haight explained the council would propose a three hour limit on parking spaces along East Main Street, but clarified that “these hours would only be between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” The City of Blue Ridge, as noted by Haight, already has a parking ordinance in place that sets a two hour limit on certain parking spaces, but that ordinance is going unenforced.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several business owners spoke to share their concerns about the potential change. A common concern among those in attendance was the establishment of time constraints on downtown shoppers. Those speaking felt that rushing downtown visitors would have a negative impact not only on their businesses, but on the city as a whole. Changing Blue Ridge’s small town charm and southern hospitality and making visitors feel unwanted was a concern raised several times during the evening.

Some citizens who spoke at the meeting were concerned that further inaction would continue to isolate residents from the downtown area. In response, Mayor Haight mentioned the council would be considering options to address the issue, including stickers for resident’s cars.

Chairman Jamie Hensley and Police Chief Johnny Scearce, both members of the Fannin County Board of Commissioners, also spoke to the council during the meeting. Hensley spoke to the council about property that Fannin County had purchased for employee parking. Offering potential help, he said, “I feel that at some point we may be able to do something, at least on the weekend, with that parking area. So, maybe that will help alleviate some of the strain from downtown.” Police Chief Scearce also spoke, highlighting the importance of public safety in the context of parking accessibility.

While the council agreed action needed to be taken, there was some disagreement concerning the extent of the potential new ordinance. Council member Christy Kay, namely, was against an immediate three hour limit on all East Main Street. Instead, she suggested, the council could test the plan on small sections of downtown. Mayor Haight responded by encouraging action after several years of studies and planning, “We can keep talking about this forever or we can implement.” At the end of the meeting, the council voted to move forward with the process of drafting an ordinance that limits East Main Street parking to three hours.


Leave a comment

Back to Top