WESTFIELD, NJ — In November, Westfield’s town council approved a ban on street parking anywhere in town during “snow emergencies,” defined as when 3 or more inches of snow have fallen. Cars must remain off the road until snowfall stops and the entire width of the road has been plowed.

The penalty for breaking the rule could be a fine of up to $150.

No municipal lots have been set aside for residents who regularly park on the street to keep their cars during a snowstorm. Keith Loughlin, who chairs the Public Safety, Transportation and Parking Committee, said he recommended that people park in a neighbor’s driveway, and those who live in apartments contact their landlords about a solution.

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“Hopefully the landlords and tenants will come up with an alternative place to park during snow emergencies,” he said.

Loughlin said that Westfield residents should be concerned about getting a ticket if they park on the street during the first snowstorm this year. But, he added, “The goal of this is to open streets, not to punish people.”

The the new rule was created at the suggestion of residents to improve safety, especially when it comes opening streets so that emergency vehicles and personnel can get through, he added.

Lyn Smith, who lives in an apartment downtown and has a permit to park in the street, told the council during Tuesday night’s meeting that she was very anxious that she will be fined and asked why the town didn’t have a contingency plan.

“I’m 76 years old, on a fixed income now,” Smith, a retired nurse, said. “Other towns have contingency plans for people like me.”

Smith said that she did not have any friends or family in town with driveways, and she believed that people would not likely allow strangers to park in theirs because it could be a liability.  

 “I’m just afraid I’ll walk out one day and not see my car — that it will be towed somewhere,” Smith said.

“No, I don’t think that would happen, okay?" Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan, who was sitting in as acting mayor, replied. "So don’t be worried about that. Enjoy the holiday season.” 

Councilman Doug Stokes told the audience the he personally has offered to let neighbors park in his driveway, and he asked that other residents do the same.

The first snowstorm of the year will also be the first time the parking ban goes into effect, and Neylan told Smith there will be a learning curve. The town will use Nixle, TwitterFacebook and its website to alert residents when the no parking rule is in effect.

“Once we see what happens, we’ll be flexible and make some changes,” Loughlin told TAPinto Westfield.