CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The parking meters in downtown Charlottesville will soon be removed after City Council voted in favor of continuing the suspension of the meter pilot program for one year.

Downtown businesses are calling the unanimous decision by council made on Tuesday, January 2, to return to free street parking a huge win for the people.

Both citizens and business owners have been outspoken since the start of the pilot program.

Members of the Downtown Business Association say the timing of the meter installation could not have been any worse after the violence in Charlottesville over this past summer.

Downtown store owners say sales have been down since the summer’s violent events, and they feel that the meters are a contributing factor.

“It was a final straw,” says Joan Fenton, chair of the Downtown Business Association. “That people were mad about what happened this summer, there’s a lot of stress downtown economically just from the rally and the after effects and a lot of people - just the meters pushed them over deciding they didn't want to come downtown.”

City Council says it’s also working on an economic recovery program to help stimulate economic growth downtown.

Councilor Kathy Galvin says she expects removal of the meters to begin within the next few days.

Street parking will remain free for the remainder of 2018, and this time next year council is expected to evaluate whether or not to bring the meters back.