The city is planning to more strictly enforce the two-hour parking limit on meters at short-term lots and on the street downtown.

The two-hour time limit for parking downtown is already a city policy at some meters, but it has not been implemented fully, the Morgantown City Council said during its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday night. The $1 per hour rate at a meter would stay the same, according to the meeting agenda.

Under this policy, residents can park for just two hours downtown per calendar day.

The first violation in a calendar year would result in a $20 fine, and all subsequent fines for the year would be $100 each, according to the agenda.

At the meeting, researcher John Edwards spoke about a parking study he conducted in Atlanta, which found the average amount of times a person uses a meter while shopping, dining and being out on the town is approximately two hours. Council used to the study to help determine the length for meters at short-term lots to have a maximum combined time.

Council and the Morgantown Parking Authority said further enforcing these parking restrictions will help support local businesses.

The parking authority said businesses located on High Street in downtown Morgantown face a dilemma when students and residents use the two hour short-term lots for several hours at a time.

Edwards’ study also mentioned that if customers can’t park near the store they wish to visit, they simply won’t go in.

“The two-hour limit is to promote downtown shopping, and for people to come downtown to visit,” said Dana McKenzie, executive director of the Morgantown Parking Authority. “From a downtown business perspective, it matters.”

McKenzie also mentioned that the main problem with the short-term lots is abuse. Through security camera footage, the parking authority can see when people come back and feed the meter for another two hours. When warnings began to be issued, they watched as people moved their cars from one spot in the lot to another, sometimes even just one to the right or left of their original spot.

For now, the parking authority said students need to learn how the lots work and where they are to avoid a citation. Someone can determine if a lot is short-term when a portion of the meter is painted green. The meter should also have the words “two-hour short-term” written along the bottom.

If someone must park for more than two hours, the parking authority suggested looking for spots in their garages downtown or downloading their app, ParkMobile, which had 50,000 transactions since February.

For anyone who wants to voice their concerns or would like more information on this policy, the parking authority has board meetings open to the public every second Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m. in the Public Safety Building conference room.