The draft also prescribes a penalty of up to $50 for violations.
Kerns compared the concept to handicapped parking permits and added that many residents don't feel safe walking far distances in the area at night. He expects about 50 people to apply initially.
"Winchester is very fortunate in that we have a lot of people that reside downtown, and in order for downtowns to work, you've got to have people down here 24/7," he said. "I think we ought to try to do something to accommodate some of these individuals."
The proposal adds to an already long list of ideas that city commissioners are mulling over to make parking in the district more convenient.
In April, the Winchester First board of directors submitted a list of six recommendations to improve parking and encourage more downtown shopping.
Suggestions include increasing tickets from $5 to $20, reducing loading zones, installing diagonal spaces in certain areas, and asking churches to allow use of their private lots.
Winchester First is also endorsing the residential permit program but urged officials to exempt spaces on Main Street, Court Street, Cleveland Avenue and a section of Wall Street behind the Clark County Courthouse.
"The board sees this as part of a more comprehensive plan to correct downtown parking problems and an adjunct to the parking proposals, which have been previously presented …" Chuck Witt, vice-chairman of the Winchester First board, wrote to the city manager's office.
Still, some officials have concerns.
Mayor Ed Burtner cautioned that permits will not guarantee residents and space and pointed out that residents with housing at places like the Phoenix House already have access to private spaces.
"The thing that concerns me is, if we do this, we are further restricting the number of spaces that are available for shoppers and visitors and guests in the downtown area," Burtner said.
Over the next few weeks, Kerns and Burtner plan to send letters to downtown businesses and residents over all the recommendations under consideration. Kerns said the city will also notify those groups of the public hearing.
"I think that gives the commission and opportunity to make a better informed decision," he said.
Contact Mike Wynn at email@example.com.