(KMOV) -- Frustrated business owners and city officials met following allegations of officers handing out citations that some call unfair and a lack of places to park in downtown Belleville.
Business owners claim the cops are too quick to ticket cars parked at expired meters when parking options are considered scarce in the area.
Now, city police is exploring an alternative to keep people coming downtown while still sending a strong message to lawmakers.
“As a merchant down here, the concern is maybe people won’t come to Belleville,” said Brian Besse, bar owner.
Concerns like Besse’s are a common theme in downtown Belleville. He said since July, cops have been over aggressive in ticketing cars at expired meters and by doing so, scaring away customers.
“You come here you spend maybe $15 then you get a $10 parking ticket,” said Besse.
News 4’s Julian Johnson asked Belleville Mayor and the city’s police chief if money issues were the real reasons behind the parking crackdown.
Mayor Eckert said,” by no means is the city of Belleville out to balance its budget with parking meter fines or revenues.” Both Eckert and Chief Clay said they just want drivers downtown to obey the rules since spaces are limited.
After meeting with more than 20 business owners on Tuesday night, officials struck a deal. They will now issue written warnings instead of fines to meter violators, a move meant to encourage commerce.
“What we are trying to do is be friendly to the patrons and customers down there,” said Chief Clay.
Those warning will also be tracked so repeat offenders still get tickets. Both sides plan to meet again in month to discuss the progress of the change.
Stay with News 4 and KMOV.com as we follow this story.