Caught by License Plate Reader, Parking Violator Faces Uncertain Future

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Using a newly issued license plate reader, Parking Bureau workers caught on to a New Canaan man who for about three months had been displaying a friend’s permit to park in the Lumbeyard Lot—skirting the rules to use the most coveted commuter lot in town.

Now, parking officials are trying to decide what to do as that man apologizes and requests that the town renew the permit he previously had held for the Richmond Hill lot (all of two blocks further away from the train station). The waiting list for the Lumberyard Lot is about seven years, the Richmond Hill lot three.

At their regular meeting Thursday, members of the Parking Commission weighed just what to do with the violator and decided ultimately that more research of the Town Charter is needed to clarify the group’s power in these situations.

“We feel that we need to do something to deter this from happening in the future,” Commissioner Pamela Crum said at the meeting, held in the Art Room at Lapham Community Center.

One idea floated was to put the man back at the bottom of the waiting list for the Lumberyard Lot—as it is now, he stands to get a permit there in about 2016 or 2017, commissioners said.

Chair Keith Richey questioned whether the commission has the authority to move around people on the waiting list.

Richey said it would be possible to not renew the man’s Richmond Hill permit, though he and others agreed that that would be too severe a measure.

Said Commissioner Patrick Swearingen: “My feeling is to give him his Richmond Hill permit because he needs it for his livelihood. There’s no argument there. I think there should be some consequence, if we can impose it, for doing something that he knew wasn’t right.”

Crum noted that the commission has pulled permit-holders’ permits in the past when they’ve been misused, and that it is said on the permits themselves that they’re not transferrable and misuse can result in revocation.

In response, Richey noted that this man had misused someone else’s permit (the friend who’d held it has moved to another Fairfield County town), not his own.

Crum said some measure must be taken, because in the time that the violator used his friend’s permit, someone else who has been on the waiting list likely would have moved up.

Swearingen said there’s a larger question to address about stopping people from marketing their permits once they no longer commute.

The threat is expected to be solved somewhat by license plate readers: Now, parking bureau officials can more efficiently check whether cars parked in town lots are permitted to be there.

Richey said he would investigate the Town Charter further to determine what authority the commission has to redress the commuter’s offense.

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