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The Rome City Commission moved Monday to grant some relief from the new downtown parking regulations that went into effect that day.

Commissioners voted 5 to 2 on an amendment that extends the on-street parking limit to three hours a day from two hours a day. Also, enforcement will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of to 8 p.m.

The rest of the plan, including the License Plate Recognition Technology, will remain in effect and vehicles must be parked with their tags facing toward the street. The LPR reader also collects information such as who’s parking downtown, when and for how long, which will be used to tweak the plan in the future.

The board’s action was a first reading. City Attorney Andy Davis said the amendment can’t be enacted until after the second reading, which is set for the June 10 meeting.

However, City Manager Sammy Rich said he would direct parking officials to proceed as if the change is in effect today.

The move followed testimony during the board’s caucus and regular meeting from downtown business owners – most of them concerned about losing customers.

“In 10 years, I’ve never seen this kind of negativity ... It seems like Broad Street, our bread and butter, is being regulated and regulated to death,” said Jay Shell, owner of Rome City Brewing Co.

A number of commissioners also said they’ve been contacted by phone and email with complaints about the new system.

Commissioners Evie McNiece and Jamie Doss were opposed and reminded the crowd that the regulations are part of a years-long effort to improve parking in the district.

“We’re doing this as a study right now because we need to get the data analytics to see what we need to do,” McNiece said.

Commissioner Craig McDaniel moved for the change, seconded by Commissioner Randy Quick. Stevenson and Commissioner Slack backed them and Mayor Bill Collins made the fifth vote required to pass any Commission proposal.

Collins said Commissioner Wendy Davis had an excused absence and Commissioner Bill Irmscher is in the hospital.

Free parking for graduations

The Downtown Development Parking Office released a map Monday highlighting free parking areas for this weekend’s high school graduations.

Director Becky Smyth said Floyd County Schools has leased decks near the Forum River Center so the staff has been reassigned as ambassadors to help people get around. They’ll be wearing yellow shirts.

Parking will be free at the parking decks on Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue and the corner of East First Street. There also will be free parking at the Fifth Avenue deck, the Midtown Transit Station and the Floyd County Courthouse.

Barron Stadium and the Downtown Tennis Center both have parking for Rome High graduation. There also will be spots available at the West Third Street lot, Heritage Park and Trinity United Methodist Church.

The free downtown shuttle, the Roman Chariot, will be running for those in need of assistance. It will run Friday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Text 706-413-2822 with your location for pick up.