Parking concerns in downtown Woodstock have sparked discussions amongst the City Council about the possibility of starting a valet parking program. The council also is weighing the option of installing paid- or timed-parking spaces in the downtown corridor.
Several restaurants in the downtown district currently have valet parking or have expressed interest in implementing it.
Office of Economic Development Director Brian Stockton is recommending that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) step in to create one valet parking program for all of the downtown.
“Instead of having all of these people out managing all of these valet parking programs, we thought about stepping in and having the DDA help manage that and have one valet parking program for all of downtown,” Stockton said.
To accommodate the valet parking program, the DDA is eyeing several lots that would provide about 150 additional spaces.
“We really want to stress if we move forward with these lots that it is not just for the restaurants or business owners. Anyone who is coming downtown can utilize that service,” Stockton said.
A downtown parking committee made up of business owners, residents and city staff also would be formed to assist the DDA in alleviating parking woes. City Manager Jeff Moon said the committee would serve as a sounding board.
“The committee would get into delivery zones and the management of spaces for deliveries, so that during certain times, some spaces may be restricted for delivery. This obviously would not be for the peak times when parking needed to be used,” Stockton said.
Mayor Donnie Henriques said he was in favor of a committee, and Ward 6 Councilman Rob Usher suggested recruiting business owners who operate during the day as well as after hours, stating they were “two different environments.”
Stockton, who oversees the Downtown Development Authority, also discussed before the council last week the possibility of employee parking as well as timed or paid parking. “I believe Rome, on their main street, has a three-hour parking limit,” he said. “We were wondering how they took care of that, but they have license plate readers. A guy walks around every two or three hours and is able to print out tickets if someone has been paid too long.”
Enforcement, Stockton said, would fall on the laps of the Downtown Development Authority and not Woodstock Police.
“So, if there is somebody not understanding something, instead of sending them to court to speak to a judge, they can come to the parking office,” he said.
The City Council, in 2012, had discussed paid parking in the downtown; however, the council at the time did not want to move forward with meters.
“The thing that is good about meters in some areas is that it will turn your parking over quicker because the people who are going to be there longer are going to find parking in one of the outlying areas,” Stockton said. “(A parking study) did suggest that we take 30 spaces on Chambers or East Main streets and put in a meter system and see if it changes anything, but ... no one wanted to move forward.”
In other business, the council:
• discussed zoning for smoke shops, which are not currently listed as a standalone use on the use chart. Currently, these uses would be included under the “Retail Store-Common" Merchandise” use, which is permitted in GC, NC, DT-CBD, DT-CMU, DT-GC and DT-RO zoning districts. City planning staff is seeking to amend the Land Development Ordinance to include smoke shops as a standalone use;
• considered a revision to the blasting ordinance to meet the state requirements and align the city’s regulations with those of surrounding jurisdictions; and
• discussed a memorandum of understanding between the city and Greenprints Alliance. The purpose of this agreement is to define a framework of collaboration between the city and Greenprints for the design, planning, funding and construction of multi-use trails and green space projects on property owned by the city. The MOU will renew annually and either side can cancel within 30 days. The council was expected to vote on the MOU at the March 23 meeting.