Ridgeway nixes overnight parking

RIDGEWAY – Bending to the will of its merchants, Ridgeway Town Council voted last week to drop a three-hour parking limit from an ordinance regulating how long vehicles can park in the town.

“The three-hour limit, I understand, has always been in the ordinance,” store owner Dee Dee Ruff told Council, “but it has never been enforced, which is a good thing. For it to start being enforced would be a negative for the merchants,” Ruff said. “It takes more than three hours to eat in a restaurant and shop at the stores. We want people to stay more than three hours. And we don’t want them to go back to their cars and find a parking ticket,” Ruff said.

“We’ve heard from the merchants, “they don’t want it,” Councilman Don Prioleau said.

There was no unity, however, on prohibiting vehicles from parking overnight on Town property.

Mayor Charlene Herring who lives next to the Cotton Yard where a sod truck sometimes parks overnight across from her home, led the charge against overnight parking. Prioleau and Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said they had no problem with the occasional vehicle parking overnight in the Cotton Yard or on other Town-owned property.

“Ever since I’ve lived in this little town,” Prioleau said, “people have parked in the Cotton Yard, met other friends and family members and left their vehicles to go a couple of days to the beach, etc. I would say strike restricting overnight parking from the ordinance as well,” Prioleau said.

Cookendorfer agreed.

If the people are telling us they don’t feel its right to restrict overnight parking and to limit parking to three hours, then we shouldn’t do it. You can govern too much,” Cookendorfer said.

As the discussion drew out and became more heated between the mayor and two councilmen, Herring interrupted.

“Why should a person leave a trailer parked downtown overnight?” she asked.

“I think it’s a disservice to the community not to allow the citizens to use the Cotton Yard for parking,” Prioleau said.

“I cannot agree for tractor trailers to be parked out there,” Herring countered.

Finally, Herring called for a motion prohibiting overnight parking and nodded toward Councilwoman Angela Harrison who made the motion. Herring called for a second and looked to Councilman Doug Porter. Finally, Herring asked Hudspeth if she could second the motion herself.

“I don’t think there is a prohibition against it,” Hudspeth said.

And with that, Herring seconded the motion and Porter and Harrison voted with her to pass it by a narrow 3-2.