Council splits on parking request

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — As a rule, Hillsville Town Council members don’t split on a vote very often, but they did Monday over a request for two 10-minute parking spaces.

The parking spaces on Court Street were requested by Council Member Greg Yonce, on behalf of the owners of Court Street Coffee Company.

Yonce also brought up the request Jan. 14 in the form of a motion to approve the 10-minute spaces, but at the time no other council member wanted to take up a vote and the motion died without a second.

This request came after council had approved two 10-minute parking spaces on Main Street near Nuckoll’s Drug and limited parking in front of the sleep center to its clients in the evening hours.

The Laurel Fork council member tried again on Monday, after coming back with more details about the parking signs.

The two signs would cost about $100 total, one for a parking space on each side of the street, he said. The Court Street Coffee Company would pick up any additional costs.

The request was to make these spaces 10 minutes from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., so people could get in and out of the caf with food orders quickly.

This time, when Yonce made a motion to approve the request, it quickly got a second from Council Member Ed Terry.

In discussion, Council Member Bill Tate reckoned the request would open up a can of worms in terms of parking.

Other people are thinking about making similar requests, he said. When asked who, Tate said he couldn’t disclose the names.

Then it’s not an issue, Terry reacted.

And Council Member Orba Alderman worried that downtown is “tight” and the 10-minute parking signs would “restrict two spots to one business.”

He felt it was more likely that these spaces would remain empty and keep people from going where they wanted to go.

There’s enough off-street parking for this use, Alderman added. “This is too much for one business entity.”

He figured the case of the drug store parking was different, because many people going in there are either elderly or sick, and the sleep center parking restrictions are just in the evening.

But on Court Street, those spaces would be right in the center of downtown, and Alderman didn’t believe they’d be utilized. He thought this would be a bad move.

When the vote came, Yonce and Terry supported the motion and Tate and Alderman voted against it.

Mayor Randall Gravley cast the deciding vote, supporting the motion. He figured the timed parking spaces would make it convenient for people picking up orders at the caf.

The mayor said council could consider other requests on a case-by-case basis.

After the meeting, Yonce told The Gazette that he has talked to business owners on Court Street — also the location of his real estate offices — and they are in support of the timed spaces.

An insurance agent figured that her customers could use the spaces to run in and drop off checks for their policies, for example.

And the spaces won’t be limited to the Court Street Coffee Company, Yonce said. They can be used for any business — as long as it only takes 10 minutes.