Restrictions for delivery vehicles on mall in place

Posted: July 17, 2013

The Winchester Star

The City Council decided on Tuesday night to eliminate routine afternoon deliveries on the Loudoun Street Mall. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Vehicles of a proper size will be allowed to make deliveries on the Loudoun Street Mall from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday through Saturday.

But don’t etch those hours in stone, because they might change.

As expected, the City Council decided on Tuesday night to eliminate routine afternoon deliveries on the mall.

But after deciding to leave the morning delivery hours the same two weeks ago, the councilors trimmed them back during a work session, then nearly reinstated some time during a special meeting held for a public hearing and vote.

The ordinance also makes violations of the hour restrictions a traffic infraction subject to a $50 fine and pronounces Loudoun Street between Piccadilly and Cork streets to be one-way (southbound) and have a 10-mph speed limit.

Previously, the City Code established 6 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. as acceptable delivery hours for vehicles weighing 24,000 pounds or less.

But with increased pedestrian use of the newly renovated mall, the councilors readily agreed last month to eliminate the afternoon hours.

Efforts to reduce the morning hours, however, met opposition from multiple downtown business owners at that work session. As a result, the councilors voted 4-3 against a motion to have deliveries cease at 10:30 a.m.

In the work session before the special meeting called to fast-track a decision, morning deliveries were cut to a three-hour period.

Vice-Mayor Les Veach broached the subject, and Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell noted that some merchants had said previously that reducing the morning hours would be a hardship — but later noted that most said the change would not affect them.

Council President John Willingham, whose business office overlooks the mall, said the area is drawing more people at 9 and 10 a.m. than before. He said he would support the new hours with an understanding that the change would be reviewed in three months.

The ordinance was advanced to the special meeting on a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Elizabeth Minor and Councilor John Tagnesi opposing the motion.

The special meeting was called shortly after that, and Christine Patrick of the Winchester Book Gallery addressed the councilors.

The hours change would limit the time delivery companies have to serve mall clients, she said, and objected to the idea that deliveries at other times could be handled just as efficiently from loading zones.

“I don’t think getting deliveries from loading zones has been as effective or as efficient,” Patrick said.

That argument swayed Councilor Jeffrey Buettner. He said he had no problem contracting the earliest hours because the city government wants more people living on the mall and he doubted that many businesses receive deliveries at 6 a.m., but he made a motion to move the cutoff time back to 11 a.m.

“We’re starting to split hairs,” Councilor Evan Clark said. “I think there needs to be an ongoing discussion with the merchants and the people who live downtown.”

Willingham noted that the councilors are supporting efforts to make Old Town a place where people live, work and shop, and removing vehicles from the mall would enhance that.

“I thought 10:30 was a good compromise,” he said. “I think if you looked at the crowd that was down there at 10:30 today, it would be tough for trucks to get around.”

Buettner’s motion to change the ordinance failed on a 4-3 vote, with Veach and Minor supporting him, and the panel then voted 7-0 to set 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. as the new hours.

During the work session, the councilors also:

Voted 6-0 with one recusal to advance a resolution allowing Buettner Tire Distributors to enter a contract with the city government for automotive services. Buettner, who owns the company deemed to have submitted the lowest qualified response to the sealed-bid inquiry, recused himself from the discussion and vote.

Voted 7-0 to advance a resolution amending the Winchester Comprehensive Employee Management System to clarify which reprimands are grievable.

Voted 7-0 to advance an ordinance to reduce the amount of insurance required for blasting at cemeteries.

Heard a presentation on school population estimates for the next 10 years by demographers at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

Attending the meeting in Rouss City Hall were President John Willingham, Mayor Elizabeth Minor, Vice President Milt McInturff, Vice-Mayor Les Veach and Councilors Jeffrey Buettner, Evan Clark, John Hill and John Tagnesi. Vice-Mayor Milt McInturff and Councilor Ben Weber were absent.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw