Petitions seek solution to Main St. parking problems
By Nancy Lindsey
Stuart Mayor Ray Weiland appointed a committee Aug. 20 to study possible solutions to problems related to Main Street parking.
Petitions were circulated and signed by almost 200 people asking the council to enact an ordinance requiring Main Street apartment landlords to "require their tenants (to) park in designated off-street parking."
A few years ago, the petition states, the town council participated in a revitalization program that improved the uptown area.
"However, during the revitalization process several parking spaces on Main Street were lost due to the addition of street side flower boxes," the petition states. "Recently, apartment tenants have been parking on Main Street further reducing the amount of available parking spaces for Main Street retail business customers."
Weiland said only a few of the signatures were from Stuart residents.
On one sheet, there were signatures of people from Patrick Springs, Martinsville, Spencer, Christiansburg and Madison, N.C.
Town Attorney Chris Corbett pointed out that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means a local government can't do anything beyond what the legislature gives it the authority to do.
Corbett said the council does not have the power to "require" landlords to "require" their tenants to park in certain spots.
He said the only option he could think of would be to pass an ordinance limiting the time a vehicle can park in a space--such as the two-hour limit recently passed by the Martinsville City Council.
Town Manager Terry Tilley said the town of Stuart had parking meters at one time, and a town employee would mark tires with chalk indicating how long it had been parking in a spot.
Enforcement would be a problem, Tilley said.
Weiland said the town could first send letters to landlords requesting them to ask their tenants to park in designated spaces.
"I'd hate to see us putting up two-hour signs or meters," Weiland said. "We need to see what other towns are doing about it."
"I tell my tenants they can't park on the street during business hours," Corbett said.
Corbett said the parking spaces on Main Street are public property, and Tilley added that the street and spaces are maintained by the town.
"It's a puzzle; I sympathize with the business owners," Corbett said.
Weiland appointed Dean Goad and Leon Puckett to a committee to study the issue and make a recommendation.
Carol Vernon, who owns and operates an apartment building on Main Street, said she has asked the tenants of her 14 apartments (two are not currently rented) not to park on the street during business hours.
Most either park behind the building, where there are enough parking spaces, she said, or at times in the parking lot across the street.
In the meantime, some older residents and people who have worked in Stuart for many years can remember times when there weren't enough businesses on Main Street to make parking a problem--and would consider too much business a good problem to have.
Town considers no-crowing law
By Nancy Lindsey
The Stuart Town Council voted Aug. 20 to set a public hearing on what Town Attorney Chris Corbett called "basically an anti-crowing ordinance."
The hearing on a proposal to ban certain fowl or poultry will be held at the next town council meeting on Sept. 17, beginning at 7 p.m.
The mini-controversy was aired at the July meeting, when some council members said they had received complaints about roosters crowing in the town at sporadic hours of the day and night.
Some people, hearing the sound in the daytime, thought it added to the bucolic atmosphere of a small town; others complained because the birds woke them up during the nighttime hours.
The roosters have apparently disappeared since the initial complaints, but in the meantime the council directed Corbett to draft an ordinance.
Corbett said different jurisdictions handle the matter of loud fowl differently. Some have separate sections for the kinds of disruptive animals, such as dangerous dogs, Corbett said, while others address poultry and other barnyard animals under zoning ordinances, spelling out the number of chickens allowed per acre, for example.
"This doesn't go that far," Corbett said.
The ordinance would make it unlawful to keep, harbor, own or feed peacocks, guinea fowl of either gender, male chickens and chickens, and roosters.
"Any poultry or fowl which customarily crows or squawks shall be presumed, subject to rebuttal, to be prohibited by this ordinance," the document states.
"I like it," said Mayor Ray Weiland. "It's to the point and easy to understand."
While the ordinance was written to make a violation a class 4 misdemeanor, Corbett said the council might choose to make the penalty civil rather than criminal.
The council members agreed to go with a civil penalty of $25 per offense.
"Enforcement is always an issue," Corbett said, adding that a complainant could report a violation to a magistrate or deputy, who would issue a summons.
Vice Mayor Dean Goad abstained on the vote.
In other matters at the Aug. 20 council meeting:
*Town Manager Terry Tilley reported that work is almost finished on the water lines to the west end of town. The lines are replacing some installed in the 1950s.
Many small leaks have been found, Tilley said, and he is hoping the new lines will eliminate water losses the town has experienced.
*Tilley said requests for proposals for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant are expected to go out this week.