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FOREST CITY | The Forest City Council is hoping changes to its overnight parking rules will improve snow removal and enforcement downtown.

On Monday, Nov. 6, the city council approved changes to when and where downtown tenants are allowed to park overnight and how much the parking permits cost at the recommendation of Forest City Administrator/Clerk Barb Smith.

“The driving force behind it was pretty much the fact that our regulations were next to impossible to enforce and there wasn’t really any structure to it,” she said. “It also made snow removal a nightmare.”

Prior to city council action on Nov. 6, Smith said both landlords and tenants of downtown properties could purchase parking permits for three lots in the business district for $120 a year. Parked, abandoned or unattended vehicles also weren’t allowed on any public street, alley or city-owned off-street parking area when snow was falling for at least 48 hours after the event.

Under the approved changes, only landlords of downtown properties will be able to purchase parking permits for one lot, located at the intersection of Sixth Street and K Street, for $240 a year. Vehicles permitted to park overnight in the designated lot will be allowed to do so during a snow event.

“We got to thinking $120 a permit that’s only $10 a month. It’s very, very low, and it hadn’t been looked at for eight or nine years,” Smith said, noting it was less than $1 a night to park downtown.

According to the city’s zoning ordinance, a rental property owner is required to provide one off-street parking space per living unit, which can be done by providing privately owned spaces or purchasing city parking permits.

Smith said there are currently 21 parking permits.

Permitted vehicles will be allowed to park in the lot from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Any other vehicle in the lot, without a permit, will be ticketed and towed. Vehicles parked overnight on business district streets will be ticketed and towed.

Smith said the changes were initially scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 1, but because of the holiday, she doesn’t believe the city will be able to notify the landlords and tenants about the changes or install the new signage by then. She said she was going to speak with the city council on Nov. 20 about moving the implementation to Jan. 1.

New permits, which will all be the same color and expire at the same time, will be issued by the Forest City Police Department, 525 N. Fourth St. Applications are also available online at www.fcpolice.org.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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