CHESTER -- Chester leaders don't plan to change the city's parking rules after a survey of downtown businesses this week showed most merchants want the 2-hour limit left alone.
Despite the findings, some business owners still feel the restriction isn't needed.
At issue is an ordinance that limits storefront parking along Gadsden, Main and Wylie streets to two hours from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. Owners who park their cars longer than two hours could receive a $20 ticket.
Chester Police didn't monitor the parking situation closely while city leaders debated what to do with the ordinance, said Police Chief Mike Brown. In January, before the issue came up, police handed out 32 tickets for the time violation.
City Councilman George Caldwell brought up the matter at a February council meeting, saying some downtown visitors have received tickets.
During an interview with The Herald this week, Caldwell said he'd also received complaints from merchants, including one who was ticketed for parking outside her business.
For the survey, Brown talked to people at 36 downtown offices, asking mostly business owners what they thought of the city's parking policy, which was developed in the early 1980s. Of those surveyed, 28 wanted the rule left alone, he said.
Brown said his tally also included representatives from the Olde English District Commission and the Chester County Chamber of Commerce. Several businesses that were closed while the survey was taken were not included.
Caldwell, whose insurance and bail bonding company is on Gadsden Street, wants the policy to change. He, too, has received a ticket for parking in front of his business. But he said he'll go along with the majority of merchants.
"I just think that we're behind the time," Caldwell said. "And I don't mind speaking out against it."
"We're promoting second-grade, tattle-tale mentality," said Marlene Hinson, owner of the Olde English Creamery and Coffee Shoppe on Gadsden Street. "Not professionalism."
Hinson wasn't included in Brown's numbers because her business was closed on the day of the survey. She said the policy discourages people from shopping downtown.
"We send the message to retail customers that we're punishing them if they stay longer than they should," she said.
But Karen Hutto, owner of Anna's Arbor restaurant on Gadsden Street, said she supported the ordinance because she doesn't want business owners to park downtown.
"If it means the business owners don't park out front, then I'm for it," she said, although she said she has no problem with anyone else parking out front for longer than two hours.
City Councilwoman Linda Tinker, who wanted the change, said she'd respect the wishes of city business owners.
"We wanted to hear back from the merchants," she said. "We thought the fairest way to make a determination would be to hear from the merchants as to what they wanted because it ultimately affects them. ... If that's the majority of downtown, then that's what we'll do is leave it alone."