Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wrightsville Beach voted to put free parking on one Harbor Island street

Short Street on Harbor Island has long had an unenforced ‘No Parking’ ordinance. After first moving to begin enforcing parking there, town leaders decided instead to put formalized free parking spaces on Short Street. (Port City Daily/Preston Lennon)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH –– A handful of new parking spaces will soon be installed in Harbor Island’s commercial district — and they’ll be free.

Town leaders have gone back and forth this summer over the parking situation on Short Street, the roadway of fewer than 500 feet on Harbor Island marked by Motts Channel Seafood and MarineMax. 

READ MORE: Wrightsville Beach grants itself ability to tow cars on Lumina, more parking changes afoot

After the board of aldermen decided to start enforcing a 20-year-old ordinance that prohibited parking on Short Street two months ago, they pivoted in August with a decision to install unpaid parking on the Harbor Island road. 

Parking on Short Street was outlawed in a 1999 ordinance, but the town has not historically enforced that prohibition. 

“The Town currently has an ordinance that prohibits parking on Short Street except in designated spaces. There are currently no designated spaces,” according to the June board of aldermen agenda. 

Wrightsville Beach leaders moved in June to begin ticketing cars parked on Short Street, fulfilling the aim of the 1999 ordinance. It was part of a wider upkeep of the town’s parking code that affected other areas on the islands. 

“Historically, we have not enforced ‘no parking’ on Short Street,” according to the June agenda. “If the Board agrees, the Town can begin to enforce ‘no parking’ on Short Street. No parking signs will need to be installed prior to this enforcement. 

Then on Aug. 12, the board of aldermen reversed course and overruled the June ordinance — the new plan is to “move forward with delineated, unpaid parking spaces on Short Street,” according to the August agenda. 

The implementation of free parking on Short Street came at least in part from the urging of the adjacent businesses. 

“In the past, the Town allowed unpaid parking on Short Street and spaces were not delineated,” according to the August agenda. “The 2 businesses on that street would like for the ability to park on Short Street reinstated.” 

The town manager, Tim Owens, presented the updated parking plan Aug. 12 to the board of aldermen. 

“We basically decided this year that we’re not going to have any parking on Short Street,” he told the board. “Other business owners, owners on that street — some are here today — would like to see parking back on that street.” 

The motion to install delineated spaces for free parking on Short Street passed unanimously. A map included with the presentation shows room for slightly over a dozen parking spaces.

The yellow blocks show where Wrightsville Beach intends to install free parking spaces on Short Street. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wrightsville Beach)

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