ELKINS - Elkins Mayor Van Broughton announced Monday the city will forgive dozens of parking tickets written Friday evening, after citizens made their displeasure known through social media over the weekend.
Broughton said anyone who received parking tickets in downtown Elkins for parking meter or "two-hour free zone" violations after 5 p.m. on Friday will not be required to pay the fine. Broughton said in a Facebook post he had "heard concern from the community about parking tickets that were issued" Friday evening.
"If you have already submitted payment, your payment envelope will be held for you to pick up with proper ID until 4 p.m. on Wednesday," Broughton wrote in the post. "That said, on behalf of our police department, the tickets that were issued were valid citations for actual violations of city parking laws."
Elkins Police Chief S.D. Richards told The Inter-Mountain Monday at least 40 tickets were issued after 5 p.m. Friday.
Broughton apologized to the public for the confusion and said he understood the city's "evening parking rules might need some adjustment." Broughton said he was looking at trying to come up with a reasonable solution, including reaching out to Elkins City Council with some suggested revisions. The mayor said he welcomes public feedback regarding the matter.
"In the meantime, effective immediately, I am ordering the police department not to enforce either parking-meter or 'two-hour free zone' violations after 5 p.m.," Broughton said in the post. "All other parking violations (e.g., obstructing traffic, unauthorized use of handicapped spaces, yellow zones, etc.) will be cited."
Broughton told The Inter-Mountain Monday one of the reasons he made the decision is to promote economic growth for small businesses within the city.
"We haven't written tickets in 15 years for citizens who used metered parking or 'two-hour free zones' to utilize small businesses downtown," Broughton said. "We don't want to deter citizens from enjoying what the city has to offer."
Residents seemed to appreciate Broughton's effort, including Terry Siewert, who commented on the mayor's Facebook post, thanking Broughton "for the positive follow up." Rodney Tallman wrote that "Commen (sic) sense prevails," while John Wilcox also thanked Broughton on Facebook.
Broughton praised Elkins City Clerk Sutton Stokes and the Elkins Police Department, who are working together to resolve the matter.
"We are fortunate to have enthusiastic staff members who have heard nothing but praise for recently stepping up parking enforcement during the day," Broughton wrote in the post. "On Friday evening, they were simply enforcing the current laws on the books, just as they have been doing during business hours, and I commend them for their initiative and hard work."
Elkins Police Chief S.D. Richards told The Inter-Mountain Monday that, with the exception of Broughton's order, "parking laws are in effect 24/7."
According to Elkins City Code, "the permitted parking time in any metered parking position shall be limited to the period shown on the dial face of that particular meter, and such time limit shall apply between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; and on Fridays such time limit shall apply between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m."
The Code also states "the time limit for parking vehicles shall not apply on Sunday or on any legal holiday which is generally observed by business places located within the parking zone areas, nor to the days devoted to any city-wide events or celebrations announced by the mayor; and during such excluded days may be parked in metered positions without the deposit of a coin in the parking meter."