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Parking Ordinance Sent Back to Subcommittee

At the City Council’s meeting on November 8, a public hearing was held on proposed changes to the City’s parking ordinance. Police Chief Craig Andersen detailed the proposed changes, which would restrict commercial vehicles exceeding a certain weight from parking on City streets overnight, prohibit people from living in their vehicles, and provide for enforcement measures.

Public Works Director Matt Hill spoke in favor of the amendments, which he said would allow a way to resolve some complaints.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio read an email from Tina Hobbs, the owner of Little World 2 Child Care on West Elm St., who said a neighbor’s trailer is often parked in front of the property her business shares with a children’s dentist office, blocking the view of turning vehicles.

After the public hearing was closed, a first reading was held and the amendments were discussed by Council members. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said the amendments would not solve issues like the one described in Ms. Hobbs’ email, as it only addresses commercial vehicles, not recreational vehicles. She was among the majority of the Public Safety Subcommittee members, tasked with deciding what changes would be made to the ordinance, who chose to focus more on vehicles that might damage roads, as opposed to vehicles that create a nuisance for neighbors. (The other Subcommittee members are Mayor Mastraccio and Councilor Jonathan Martell.)

Mayor Mastraccio asked if vehicles such as the one referred to in the email might be addressed under existing safety laws. Chief Andersen explained that the motor vehicle statutes are very strictly worded with regard to issues like this, and would only apply if the driveway is blocked, not just if visibility is impaired.

Mr. Hill said the ordinance also does not address another issue, which is vehicles that are registered, but abandoned on City streets. City Manager Steve Buck added that he continues to be concerned about people using City streets as storage areas for RV’s, trailers and storage vehicles. He spoke about a boat that was abandoned in the City’s parking lot for several months. He said if people don’t want these vehicles in their driveways, they need to find offsite storage.

Councilor Hanselmann disagreed, saying she was concerned about members of the community without any off-street parking.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy suggested that people be required to park their vehicles on their own side of the street. Councilor Hanselmann agreed with that idea, although she wasn’t sure the Subcommittee would be able to reach consensus.

Mayor Mastraccio requested the ordinance go back to the Subcommittee for further revision before it comes to the Council for a vote. The Public Safety Subcommittee will meet Tuesday, November 16 at 11:00 a.m. via Zoom, but this item is not on the agenda for that meeting..

The current proposed ordinance can be found in the City Council’s meeting packet here, beginning on page 40.

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