SOMERSET, NJ – If it snows, they tow.
That’s the idea behind an ordinance that the Franklin Township Council passed on first reading last night after declining to vote on similar legislation earlier this month because it lacked protections for residents without driveways.
This time around – as long as it’s adopted at the Oct. 10 council meeting – residents will have to get their cars off the street “whenever snow has fallen and the accumulation is such that it covers the street or highway,” according to the ordinance.
The parking ban will last until the road is plowed, even if it’s stopped snowing. Cars that remain on the street will be ticketed and towed, but the police department will try to find the owners before resorting to towing as residents adjust to the new law.
“The effort is to try to get the car removed, so the first thing will be to try to locate the owner of the vehicle and have them move it,” Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said. “The police department will use their discretion in this and really try to get the owners to move the vehicles.”
There are a few exceptions to the township-wide ban: Brookline Avenue, Home Street, Ambrose Street, Phillips Road and anyone without a driveway or a “Township designated parking area.”
Explaining the exemptions, Deputy Mayor James Vassanella said in August that many houses on the roads exempted from the ordinance don’t have driveways.
“The few roads that were left off as exemptions were based on concerns myself and others had where there were some streets that had several houses without driveways,” he said at the time.
His concern extended to everyone without a driveway at the Sept. 10 meeting, which is why the council scrapped an earlier version of the ban over concerns that residents without driveways weren’t accounted for.
Anyone without a driveway or other off-street parking can apply for a free exemption permit with the department of public works. Residents on the exempted streets do not need a permit.
“There is no charge for the permit or sticker. So there is no fee for that. It’s just so the plow drivers and the police know you have received permission to park there,” Councilman William Galtieri said.
The ordinance says that once you apply for a permit, a traffic officer from the police department “will inspect the property and advise the director whether the issuance of the permit is valid.”
However, a permit only allows you to park on the street that it was issued for, warned Mayor Phillip Kramer.
“The permits, the stickers are essentially permanent,” he said. “You apply and once you get it on there and as long as you’re still living at that address it applies. If you have a permit because you’re on Livingston Street in Franklin and you try to park on Elizabeth Avenue during a snowstorm, it’s not going to go well for you.”
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