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Overnight Winter Parking Ban Lifted

A town policy that dates back more than 40 years banning overnight parking during the wintertime on town streets was lifted on Tuesday in favor of a ban only during snowstorms.

Residents will now being able to park on Danvers streets overnight this winter unless a snowstorm is approaching.

That was the decision on Tuesday night by the Board of Selectmen, which unanimously voted to change a town policy that has existed for more than 40 years banning overnight parking between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. during the winter.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Bill Clark, said he came into Tuesday night’s meeting prepared to send a proposed town bylaw change to a Special Town Meeting. But the overnight winter parking ban is included in the town’s traffic rules and regulations, set by the Board of Selectmen acting as the Traffic Commission, said Town Manager Wayne Marquis.

That cleared the way or the board to go ahead and make the change, which will be official on Jan. 1. While the overnight parking ban remains in place until then, Selectman Keith Lucy encouraged the police to be lenient in its enforcement.

The ban will only go into place when a snowstorm is forecasted to drop snow on Danvers and will still apply only to the hours of 1-6 a.m.

Marquis said the town would use its Reverse 911-like system with calls to cell phone and landlines, post it to the town website and contact Danvers Patch and North Shore 104.9. Two message boards would also go up; one near the intersection of High Street and Route 128 and one near the intersection of Maple and Poplar streets.

Selectman Gardner Trask said common sense should allow most residents to know whether a parking ban will be in place.

“If you hear a storm is coming you shouldn’t be parked on the street overnight,” he said.

A second message would then be sent out indicating the ban is lifted.

The policy change will also come with a “public communications campaign,” Marquis said.

For violators who are towed, the total cost would be at least $175, Marquis said - $125 for the tow, $35 for storage and $15 for the parking ticket.

Marquis estimated Danvers has towed six to eight vehicles – total – in the past six year for violating the overnight winter parking ban. With the storm-by-storm ban, it will be more common to tow, he said.

“There’s no way to predict what the (number of cars towed) would be in Danvers,” he said.

Marquis said he has checked with the tow companies that currently do business with the town government and they would have the ability to do the towing and store the vehicle, as required.

If a snowstorm is not headed our way, though, vehicles can park overnight on the street under the new plan. The change will be a “trial plan” that will be evaluated at the end of the winter.

Before its vote, Marquis summarized the board’s two options – either keep the ban in place mostly as it has been for more than four decade, with a seasonal ban on overnight parking, what he said was common in many suburban communities on the North Shore. In cities, he said, most allow on street parking except when a storm in approaching and a parking ban is put in place.

During the course of Tuesday night’s discussion, two possible amendments were suggested but not approved.

Bennett suggested that during the winter parking being allowed on only one side of the street in downtown areas. If the parking ban is ignored during a storm, he said, and cars are left on both side of the road it could leave only a narrow path for the plow to pass in between, making it very difficult for the road to get cleared.

And Trask suggested that the ban extend throughout the day, for as long it would take for snow removal operations to be complete.

Both of those amendments were withdrawn when other selectmen did not express support. In short, selectmen said the change from a wintertime parking ban to a storm-by-storm ban is enough and that they should hold off on making any other changes at the same time.

Selectmen Mike Powers said he did not want the town to be “on again, off again" with unclear policies but said he has heard loud and clear from residents who want the policy changed. About 10 residents looked on from the back of the Daniel J. Toomey meeting room in Town Hall as the Selectmen discussed and voted on the change on Tuesday.

“Nobody is saying keep the ban,” Powers said.

Clark said feedback to him was 10-1 in favor of lifting the winterlong ban and Trask said he favored the change but did hear from a small number of residents outside the downtown and Back Bay that they prefer the winterlong ban because it helps keep the town roads clear.

Clark said Tuesday night’s vote was a perfect example of town government being responsive to concerns raised by residents.

“We can react to people’s requests for the good of the community,” Clark said.

Sean Ward December 05, 2012 at 02:16 PM
This is disappointing news. I recognize that sometimes street parking is a necessity but more often in Danvers it's just a convenience. Street parking makes roads just a little more dangerous for you, for children, and for your neighbors all year around, not just during snow storms. The town should review all streets and determine which ones are actually wide enough to accommodate cars parked on both sides safely and put up some no parking zones.
Jane Dean December 05, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Danvers has always had the best plowed streets on the North Shore. Well that is gone now. Every street will have vehicles parked on it
Tammie King December 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM
This is great news and shows that the town is willing to grow with the community. Gone are the days of one car per family. There are may areas in Danvers that were built in the day of one vehicle per household. The parking ban plays a huge toll on them (Some having to park 1-3 miles away EVERY night) The 120 day parking ban that forces residents to park on their lawns and sometimes across their sidewalks, I would argue is much more dangerous to the community than allowing on street parking. (Not to mention the damage that's done when the ground isn't frozen) If you look back on the last 5 years, we averaged 12 plowable snowstorms per year. (Last year was an exception and was far below that number) The ban was only in effect between the hours of 1am and 6am, how many of those storms hit during that time? Last year, families with multiple vehicles were forced to park on their lawns when it was 70 degrees outside. If you see snow in the forecast or on the ground, get your car off the street, regardless of whether the ban is in effect... day or night, that is what we should be doing to contribute to our safety. It makes sense given the technology we have today, to institute a more flexible system. Thankfully the town agreed.
dawn December 05, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I think its great! Way to go Danvers!
s.e.d. December 05, 2012 at 04:12 PM
It's about time. This is a plan that will work well as noted in EVERY OTHER CITY AND TOWN. Kuddos to all involved in this policy change.
Robert O'Brien December 05, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Unfortunately your intrest was for you own self intrest as you do not want your tenants parking in your driveway......
Robert O'Brien December 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Agreed. Unfortunately many of the things Danvers was known for have gone by the wayside......we are now just a town settling for being average!
Sean Ward December 05, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Some of these opinions are consistent with the recent elections. Instead of building adequate parking for themselves there is an expectation that the tax payers provide it for them in the form of allowing the streets to become an extension of their driveways. Just last month a child was run over when she darted out from behind a street parked SUV. Just a couple weeks ago a women killed her passenger when she slammed into the back of a flatbed truck parked on the side of the road. To say that parking on the grass is just as dangerous is ridiculous. Street parking makes already narrow New England side streets even more narrow and dangerous to drive down. I'm for a year round 24 hour street parking ban and zoning changes to require adequate off street parking for all private residences as well as expanded public parking areas in the commercial and more densely populated parts of town. Safety is far more important than convenience.
Jared Robinson December 05, 2012 at 04:56 PM
We'll all blame Danvers when we have record snowfalls this year.
Tammie King December 05, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I wasn't intending on offending anyone, just trying to show the other side of the story. I don't have any tenants and the parking ban doesn't even effect me. I can empathize with those that it does effect, talk to them, you may see a different side of things. In the back bay specifically, there is no place to expand parking. I agree accidents do happen, but they also happen when there are no cars on the street. Being conscious and alert are your best guards for being safe. But forcing kids and joggers to go around parked cars and into the street isn't exactly solving the problem either. (Just sayin)
Tammie King December 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM
So true, better go buy that snow blower to balance it off! :)
Sean Ward December 05, 2012 at 05:26 PM
It's completely illegal to leave a car on the sidewalk. Those using the sidewalk as an extension of their driveway should be towed immediately as they are putting pedestrians in immediate danger.
Robert O'Brien December 05, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Nah...lets blame Salem! ;)
paul nielsen December 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I think its great. I have plenty of off street parking and do not park on the street. Its great for those who have to. So its pretty simple..... if you see it starting to snow at night, sometime this winter...... go move your car!
Karen Nelson December 06, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I agree. I totally get the point about multiple vehicles per family, but that is something people should be factoring into their housing decisions...if you have kids, YES, they will eventually grow and want their own transportation. If you are a landlord, only offer parking for the amount of space you have. It seems like a problem that maybe some people did not think of in their long term planning and now they want the town to come solve it for them.
Pat December 06, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Change is good and households have certainly changed. I'm not opposed to this. I do agree that the town needs to review year round parking on both sides of many streets, especially Holten St between town Hall and the Calvary Church. This was OK when no one drove SUV's but now it is a year round problem and will be terrible come snowfall. We spent how much to build a parking lot around the corner that isn't used? Maybe the Church is Grandfathered, but due to public safety, this needs to change.

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