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December 6, 2012

Danvers clears out winter parking ban for new system

DANVERS — Selectmen voted Tuesday to do away with the overnight on-street winter parking ban.

Instead, they will try a system that warns residents to move their cars off the street during snowstorms or risk having their vehicles towed and being slapped with at least $175 in fees and fines.

The more-than-40-year-old ban on overnight on-street parking from Dec. 1 to April 1 kept the streets clear for plows to do their job, Town Manager Wayne Marquis said. But after last year’s mild winter, some residents who live downtown, where parking is scarce, questioned the need for a blanket parking ban when there was no snow on the ground or in the forecast.

On Marquis’ recommendation, selectmen voted unanimously to try the system in which a parking ban would only be enforced when there’s a snowstorm and the town needs to plow. Marquis suggested that the board wait to permanently change the traffic rules until a trial is evaluated. The new system takes effect Jan. 1.

Since selectmen act as the town’s traffic commissioners and establish the rules and regulations, the change did not require a Town Meeting vote.

When snow is forecast, the town plans to notify residents using email, automated phone alerts, the town’s website, message boards, notifications on radio station North Shore 104.9 and the press that the overnight parking ban is in effect, Marquis said.

Marquis favored the notification system over a blue-light system for the time being, noting the latter, which would involve mounting blue lights in strategic locations around town, would cost upward of $2,000 and could not be activated by the town’s fire alarm system.

Town Meeting member Carla King, who asked selectmen nine months ago to modify the overnight winter parking ban, came to the meeting with approximately a dozen residents. She said she was not affected by the winter parking ban, but others downtown were.

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