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East Hampton Village Board ponders easing overnight parking ban

Publication: The East Hampton Press
By Carolyn Kormann   Sep 15, 2009 6:36 PM

The East Hampton Village Board of Trustees continued a debate on whether it should make changes to the overnight parking ban at a meeting on August 4 but could not reach a consensus.

The code currently prohibits vehicles from being parked on village streets between 2 and 6 a.m. But the law has not been as strictly enforced as the village would like it to be.

“The problem was they wanted it enforced but there are people that don’t have adequate parking,” said Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen, “and we want to accommodate everyone.”

“We can leave the law the way it is and enforce it, but that raises the issue that residents are going to park overnight in the street and get a ticket,” said Village Administer Larry Cantwell. “In season, this doesn’t happen infrequently—people have guests and driveways aren’t built for a whole, full household.”

An amendment to the law—reviewed at a July 31 hearing—would have reverted to an earlier version of the code that allowed overnight parking on streets that have paved shoulders delineated by white lines or designated parking spaces, but not on the actual roadway of any street. The law was intended to prevent overnight parking on narrow streets that have no shoulder or parking spaces.

But Mr. Cantwell said that the village had received comments from people who live or work on or around Main Street who said that such a change would be problematic. For example, people used to leave their cars on the street for several days when they took the Hampton Jitney into New York City, creating a problem for residents of Main Street and Guild Hall, Village Trustee Richard Lawler said.

Village Superintendent of Public Works Scott Fithian said that allowing overnight parking would create problems for street sweepers and plows during snowstorms. “It’s dangerous weaving in and out,” he said. Mr. Cantwell noted that during storms, Mr. Fithian always would have the authority to request cars to be towed.

“What are we trying to accomplish here?” asked Village Trustee Barbara Borsack. “People have so many cars they can’t fit in their driveways?”

Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach said that was the problem, especially on the weekends, when people had guests. Some homes on Fithian Lane do not even have driveways, Chief Larsen said. Mr. Rickenbach suggested that Fithian Lane and Pleasant Lane, another street with little driveway space, should be exempt from the overnight parking ban.

One remedy, Mr. Cantwell suggested, would be to decide on all the places in the village that have parking spaces but should not have overnight parking such as Main Street. He also said that the board needed to decide what it was trying to accomplish. “Is it an aesthetic issue or a safety issue?” he asked.

Ms. Borsack remained in favor of the status quo. “I think if people have three cars, they have to accommodate themselves. The village shouldn’t bend over backward to accommodate them,” she said.

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