ONLINE UPDATE: New commercial lot to emerge in municipal complex

by Kelly Corbett
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wrightsville Beach will soon see the addition of about 40 parking spaces in a new lot located in the municipal complex behind the Southeast Regional Office of the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

The spaces in the lot will be available to Town of Wrightsville Beach businesses for $250 each in the next few weeks.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted unanimously for the changes after approving a list of other changes in the town parking ordinance Tuesday, March 25.

The lot construction is estimated to cost $5,000, which town manager Tim Owens said he will use from the current budget.

“I’m going to put a light out there too for safety purposes,” Owens said.

The board will look at making the lot a restricted or permitted use during the April board meeting, so a heftier fine, about $150, can be placed on vehicles without lot parking passes.

The lot passes will be identified as Commercial II. Commercial I passes will also be available for businesses with adjacent on-street parking for $500 each, up from $290, with a cap of 10 passes per business.

Mary Baggett Martin, co-owner of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, argued against the high cost of the passes by speaking out during the meeting, saying the brick-and-mortar businesses are the hardest hit of all parking changes.

“We are the taxpayer too,” Martin said. “… The brick-and-mortar on the beach are the taxpayer.”

Mayor Bill Blair said he does not have a problem revisiting the changes after the parking season, and that a financial analysis determining costs has not been done.

“This is new, it’s experimental,” Blair said. “I’m trying to be fair.”

There is also a stipulation in the ordinance that the amount of both Commercial I and II passes should not exceed the amount sold in 2013, at 113 passes.

Contractor passes will also be created, costing $7.50 per day for up to seven days. Any time period longer than seven days must be approved by Owens, who said he will also take a harder look at all requests.

In addition, the town will be more stringent about enforcing illegal parking on grass in the town complex, putting up additional no parking signage and increasing patrol by the Wrightsville Beach Police Department and Lanier Parking.

“You think people wouldn’t park in front of a fire hydrant, but they do that anyway,” said Alderman Hank Miller III.

Parking fines to rise with rate increase

The parking fines will also increase by $10, from $25 to $35, to discourage those parking from using citations as a means to park. The change comes along with the increase of the hourly rate to $2.50 and the daily pass rate to $15.

If unpaid after 72 hours, the fine will rise to $45. Following 10 days, the parking fine will increase to $65. Handicap and lifeguard parking space fines will remain $250, and the violation of operation of meters will remain at a $100 fine across the board.

To end the meeting, Alderwoman Elizabeth King mentioned charging for the free three-hour parking near Wrightsville Beach Park. Board members agreed that would be a discussion for another day.

Alderwoman Lisa Weeks was absent from the meeting due to traveling out of town for business.

Full story to be printed Thursday, March 27.

email kelly@luminanews.com

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