Foxborough's ban on parking for a fee in residential neighborhoods during events is now in effect and local authorities are ready to put it into action.
"[Monday] night, in my personal car, with my sunglasses on and a hat – I looked like a movie star – I drove down North Street and was waved in [to park for a fee] by 11 homeowners," said Foxborough Building Inspector Bill Casbarra, referring to activity prior to Monday night's Patriots game. ... "On Friday, I'm going to be back and if you are someone that is charging [to park], you are going to get a ticket."
The parking ban was not in effect for Monday's Patriots game against the Philadelphia Eagles but will be for this weekend's New England Country Music Festival.
Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary told the Board of Selectmen at Tuesday's meeting the town's parking bylaw has been approved by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office and is will be in effect for the back-to-back annual country music concerts featuring Kenny Chesney on Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25.
"," said O'Leary. "To my interpretation of the ruling from the Attorney General’s office, not only does it allow the bylaw but it also delineates from parking of cars for pay as the specific violation as I believe this operation has created the additional cars in the area that creates the hazard."
O'Leary said the purpose of the bylaw, which passed Town Meeting, 73-50 in May, is to address those hazards created by the increase of traffic in residential areas around Gillette Stadium during events in which more than 15,000 tickets go on sale.
"The purpose of the bylaw was to reduce traffic congestion in parts of town during major stadium events," O'Leary said. "Over the past several years there’s been substantial growth and traffic flow created and is still created [in residential areas near the Gillette Stadium], which becomes a public safety hazard at the end of the night.
"This increased traffic flow and parking is a result of numerous paid parking operations that have developed as a side industry along North Street and has migrated to other areas of the town near Route 1."
Some residents have expressed concerns as to how the parking bylaw will be enforced by Foxborough Police. O'Leary explained the process to set the record straight.
"At this point, the [police] department will monitor parking operations and issue civil citations when violations of the paid parking element occurs," O'Leary said. "This will be done, as in the past, through normal police procedures. There seems to be some mistaken issue within the community that parking tickets will be issued to individual cars that are parked in a person’s yard. That is not the case. The bylaw pertains specifically to people who park cars for pay."
O'Leary said property owners parking cars for a fee during major stadium events would be subject to a fine of $100 for each car “parked for pay.” In addition, any vehicle parked in a restricted area during a stadium event is a $100 fine and the potential of having that vehicle towed.
Furthermore, when a person in violation of the bylaw receives a ticket, O’Leary says it is a civil offense and the violator has two choices – pay the fine or appeal it.
“It can be paid at the town clerk’s office,” O’Leary said. “If you wish to appeal the ticket, it can be appealed at the court’s office of Wrentham District Court. If you fail to pay and fail to appeal then a criminal court summons could be issued.”
Nancy Campany, chairman of the citizen group that was established in June to establish criteria for parking of vehicles on residential property during stadium events, expressed her committee’s concerns.
“Concern is the presumption by law enforcement that a certain number of cars parked on a lot might be [considered] a violation,” Campany said. … “Enforcement should have to have evidence in order for the violation to garner a ticket. … You can’t just assume because there’s 10 cars that it’s parking for pay.”
Another concern for Campany and her committee is the bylaw has gone into effect without the Board of Selectmen establishing a policy.
“You as a board have to sit down and develop a policy and vote to adopt it,” Campany told the Board of Selectmen. “I seriously question whether this [bylaw] can go into effect until you have done just that.”
Town Manager Kevin Paicos disagreed with Campany’s position regarding the selectmen’s need to establish policies with regard to the enforcement of the bylaw.
“In terms of enforcement, the board has no authority, neither do I, to tell the enforcing authorities how to enforce this bylaw,” Paicos said. “It would be like telling the authorities how to write a speeding ticket, or arrest a burglar. We have no authority to do it.”
Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan, who acted as chairman during the parking bylaw discussion because BOS chair James DeVellis recused himself from the table to avoid a conflict of interest, said he would like to discuss the bylaw with Town Counsel Richard Gelerman.
“I think Dick Gelerman should be brought in to explain the bylaw to us more clearly,” Sullivan said. … “No disrespect Kevin [Paicos], I’d rather hear an opinion from legal counsel then anybody in this room.”
Gelerman was not present at Tuesday's meeting.
The board agreed and collectively asked Paicos to invite Gelerman to a future meeting to clarify the town’s bylaw and whether the selectmen should establish any policies.
In the interim, however, the bylaw is still in effect with the first major stadium event under the new conditions happening at the end of the week.
“Like most things, it will improve as the day goes on,” said Sullivan. … “It’s a quality of life issue for a lot of people.”
It was also noted at Tuesday’s meeting that while residential areas around Gillette Stadium are the focus of the parking bylaw, it applies throughout the entire town.