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Can I Park Overnight on the Street This Winter?

We explain the on-street winter parking rules in both Hamilton and Wenham in the latest "You Ask...Patch Answers."

The new year has come and gone and there has not yet been a snowstorm. But when it does snow, drivers want to know whether they can park overnight on the street.

Winter parking bans are put in place to make it easier for plows to clear the roads and to allow plows to get the entire road cleared.

In Wenham, the winter parking rules have been in place for more than a month. The says that no vehicle can be parked on the street from midnight to 8 a.m. for longer than an hour between Nov. 15 and March 31. Violators face a $15 fine.

In Hamilton, new rules were put into place earlier this fall that have yet to be used because it has yet to snow enough to warrant its use.

The new rules call for a parking ban to be announced when 4 inches or more of snow is forecasted.

Chief Russell Stevens told Selectmen when the policy was adopted that drivers will be given at least four hours notice before the parking ban is put in place. And they will be notified using the town’s Connect-CTY reverse notification system, HWCam public access television, the town website, plus anyone can call into the Hamilton-Wenham Emergency Center to check if a parking ban is in place.

The ban will remain in place as long as the storm lasts.

“If we have 24 hours of snow you are off the road for 24 hours,” Stevens said.

The fine for violating the parking ban is $20.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo estimated that if the policy were in place last winter that six to eight parking bans would have been enacted.

The new policy replaces a bylaw that was in place since 2007 but was never used.

At Special Town Meeting in October 2007, voters approved an overnight winter parking bylaw that called for lights and signs around town to notify drivers about a parking ban. The power to enact a parking ban rested with the police chief and director, as is under the new policy.

“We did not have those devices in place,” Lombardo told the Board of Selectmen when the new parking police was enacted this fall. “The mechanisms for notifying the public weren’t there.”

Voters at the Special Town Meeting this fall repealed the previous bylaw. In its place, Selectmen put in place a policy that is much the same as the old bylaw, except that technology will be used to notify drivers, rather than signs and lights.

Before 2007, Hamilton had a winterlong overnight on-street parking ban similar to the one in place in Wenham. It banned overnight on-street parking from Dec. 1 to April 1 between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“I’m not looking for that,” Stevens told Selectmen as the new overnight parking police was adopted.

Lombardo said in a subsequent interview said the parking rules are now a town policy, and not a bylaw, because it will allow town officials “to expedite any future changes as may be warranted based on operational experience and/or changing externalities.”

It was not clear why the overnight winter parking rules had been a bylaw “other than that most everything was,” Lombardo said.

A copy of the 2007 Town Meeting minutes is attached to this story, when the previous winter parking ban was approved. Also attached is an announcement from Hamilton town officials about the new policy, which is now in place.

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