DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - The Decatur City Council votes to raise parking fines by as much as 500%. That happened during the council's business meeting Monday afternoon. Council members say they're not trying to drive business out of town but rather make certain customers have a place to park.
No shortage of parking in downtown Decatur Tuesday afternoon. But merchants tell us the shoppers typically file in on weekends. Some business owners say the primary on-street parking along historic Bank Street and on Second Avenue is often taken by other merchants and their employees, leaving customers to look for parking where they can find it.
The Decatur City Council has been mulling a change in the city's parking ordinance for some time. A consultant hired to review the city's parking issues recommended, among other things, that the city revamp its parking fines. The vote Monday was unanimous. Overtime parking fines will jump from $5 to $25 when the changes go into effect. City leaders say it's a matter of protecting merchants and their customer base.
Council members say they hope the new ordinance will encourage employees along Bank Street to park on the side streets or behind the stores leaving the primary parking along Bank Street available to customers. They have the same goal for Second Avenue and the overall goal of making it easier for shoppers to park and shop.
A number of other changes. The two-hour limit will not be enforced on Saturdays and the new ordinance creates almost 200 free parking spaces.