Downtown parking limit rescinded

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019


A local ordinance limiting parking in downtown Franklin to two hours is no more, following a 5-2 City Council vote on April 8.

The ordinance had been in place since 1962 — one year after Franklin officially became an independent city — and was last re-enacted in 1988. The reason the matter came before the council that evening was because the city’s Police Department, in the words of City Manager Amanda Jarratt, had recently received an “overwhelming number of calls” regarding people parking over the limit.

With no choice but to enforce the ordinance as it is written, the Franklin Police Department had issued 11 tickets to-date, Jarratt said, adding that the ordinance had historically been enforced only on an irregular basis. She then brought up the results of a parking survey the Downtown Franklin Association conducted several months ago in partnership with Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. and the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

The survey indicated that out of 33 individuals who operate businesses in Franklin, 13 were in favor of the ordinance, 15 were not in favor and five had no clear opinion. Fourteen had commented that they felt the issue could be solved without parking limits. A few mentioned they felt parking had become an issue due to business owners parking in front of their own businesses, and four indicated that their particular line of business required that customers park longer than two hours, and seven said they would be open to a longer timeframe for a parking limit. Of these, three suggested four or five hours.

Prior to the vote, Councilman Linwood Johnson said he felt city police officers needed to be handling other business and that business owners should be able to work out their differences. However, Councilman Benny Burgess, who is himself a downtown business owner, said he did not feel that doing away with the ordinance would solve the city’s downtown parking problems.

Mayor Frank Rabil’s comments aligned more with Johnson’s than Burgess’s.

“If adults can’t be adults and have voluntary compliance, shame on us,” Rabil said.

However, Vice Mayor Barry Cheatham said he would have preferred to see the ordinance modified rather than be taken off the books. He and Burgess were the two dissenting votes on the motion to do away with the ordinance.