Parking requirements in downtown Elkins are questioned

The Inter-Mountain photo by Haley Gordon Americorps member Ben Martin speaks during public comment at an Elkins Planning Commission meeting.

ELKINS — An Americorps member with Elkins Main Street spoke to the Elkins Planning Commission about off-street parking requirements and how street parking relates to property values.

“We’re making a statement as a city that we’re guaranteeing the right to off-street parking for any new construction that goes on and I feel like, as a country full of rights, I feel like parking maybe isn’t necessarily one of the ones that we need to guarantee,” Ben Martin said during the public comment section of the EPC meeting last week.

Martin provided the Commission with examples. The Appalachian Animal Hospital, for example, sits on 1.27 acres of land. Its value is less per acre than that of the 100 block of Davis Avenue, a property that only takes 0.29 acres. This is due to the fact that much of the animal hospitals land features off-street parking, lowering the value, he said.

“Just down the street from my office is the 100 block of Davis Avenue that has the Brewstel and the Colorbar and the Moose Building,” he said.

“All of those buildings were built before parking minimums were even a thing,” Martin told the Planning Commission.

He compared the block to the Appalachian Animal Hospital property by saying, “Since so much of that land is being used in parking (…) that land use and that development style isn’t nearly as productive for the city at generating tax revenue.”

“I just don’t think that these parking requirements are necessarily good for the way we develop going forward in our city,” he said.

Earlier this month, Martin was one of the volunteers leading the implementation of new three-hour parking stickers in downtown Elkins, in an effort to increase the time limit for free, on-street parking.

The free parking time limit is in effect between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The change-over included removing the old two-hour parking caps and meter heads, and installing the new three-hour parking stickers and aluminum post caps.


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