The Madison Town Council passed a new parking ordinance at its regular monthly meeting last week.
The ordinance marks an end to a yearlong Main Street parking debate. There was no public comment before the council unanimously voted to enact the new regulations.
“This is a basic ordinance and it should cover what we’ve been having issues with,” said town attorney Maynard Sipe.
The ordinance prohibits double parking; blocking driveways; parking within 15 feet of a crosswalk, intersection or fire hydrant; and parking in marked no parking zones. The ordinance also provides guidance for towing vehicles which are violating the parking regulations. Despite having state law that covers those provisions, Madison County Sheriff Erik Weaver requested the town enact clear statutes so a policy could be enforced.
Main Street parking has always been problematic because of a lack of public parking lots and a narrow road. The past year’s controversy between BulletProof and the Madison Free Clinic posed a challenge for town government as they worked to balance the business needs with public safety.
Last summer, then Madison Free Clinic Executive Director Brenda Clements inquired about who bears responsibility for parking enforcement and appealed to both VDOT and law enforcement. After a site visit, VDOT put a No Parking sign for the western side of the street between the clinic and the crosswalk. Despite the sign, BulletProof owner Josh Phillips and his customers continued to park there which according to Clements created a hazard for drivers and pedestrians leaving the clinic. When she appealed to law enforcement, the Virginia State Police told her it wasn’t their jurisdiction and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office refused to enforce parking regulations without an ordinance. Clements brought the issue to the town council and several months of contentious debate arose between patrons of the gun store and town residents concerned about pedestrian safety.