Chapel Hill businesses concerned about UNC parking changes

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Some changes to parking at the University of North Carolina’s campus in Chapel Hill is causing some problems for businesses downtown.

UNC officials said they are doing away with free weeknight visitor parking on most parking lots on campus.

Visitors must now pay for a $1 pass to park on most campus lots at UNC on weeknights after 5 p.m. by using the Park Mobile app.

UNC officials told CBS 17 they implemented this change to keep the cost of daytime parking down for students and faculty.

“We have the $1 a night option, which is pretty reasonable,” said Cheryl Stout, UNC Director of Transportation and Parking.

However, some businesses in downtown Chapel Hill told CBS 17 that this is having a negative impact on their employee and customer parking.

Sequoia Crider, a manager at Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery on Franklin Street, said most of her employees would park for free on the UNC lot behind their restaurant after 5 p.m.

“There’s never been enough parking in Chapel Hill,” Crider said.

But now she said all of her employees are forced to pay to park on the UNC lot or find whatever metered parking spot they can.

“You see employees having to pay eight dollars to come to work in the morning and eight dollars to come to work at night,” Crider said.

Crider told CBS 17 that the $1 fee pass for weeknight parking at the UNC lot will add up and sometimes employees don’t bring home that much in tips.             

“Sometimes our employees are only walking out with five dollars and having to pay just to park,” Crider said. “Sometimes they aren’t making any money at all that day.”

Crider is also concerned about the impact this will have on their business. She said many of their older customers will not want to waste their time to pay to park online.

“You have to pay on a smart phone, which some of them are most of them do not have,” Crider said. “So they are having to figure out something else or just not come at all.”

Crider said she thinks there should be more parking available to businesses in downtown Chapel Hill.

As for students, they will also be charged an annual fee of $6 for weeknight parking that they pay with tuition.

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