A longtime Main Street business owner is asking town officials for some leniency when it comes to commercial vehicles that remain parked on the street for more than two hours. Anthony Ceraso told members of the Parking Commission at their most recent meeting that he’s not disputing the two $25 tickets he received in June for overtime parking out front of his business on the corner of East Maple Street. “They’re already paid, I’m here to vent,” Ceraso told the Commission at its Sept. 4 meeting at Town Hall. Ceraso, owner of AC Auto Body, said he’s been in business in New Canaan for 22 years and located at 182 Main St.
The volunteers who help oversee New Canaan’s Parking Bureau said this month pushed back on the idea of empowering enforcement officers to void tickets once they’ve been written.
Parking Commission Chairman Keith Richey broached the idea during the appointed body’s Sept. 4 meeting, saying that in certain cases—for example, where someone happened to be in a double-parked or otherwise mis-parked vehicle, or was unaware of a loading zone rule—it could make sense to empower the enforcement officer to retract a ticket.
Yet doing so would bring new risks, the commissioners said.
“It puts the officer on the street in an awkward position when the townsperson says look I lived in New Canaan for 39 yrs and I am a senior citizen and I am really important in New Canaan and I think you ought to waive this ticket,” Commissioner Peter Ogilvie said during the special meeting, held at Town Hall.
“Well, if the officer has the legal ability to waive right then and there on the street, the officer is going to feel pretty intimidated by some of these people. I don’t think you want to give that right to the officer on the street.”
According to appeals filed by motorists cited for violating New Canaan’s parking rules, enforcement officers often say on the street that they cannot retract a ticket once it’s printed.
Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said that the officers already give motorists an opportunity to move or urge a driver to correct the violation prior to issuing a ticket. “They will tell somebody to please move,” Miltenberg said. Commissioner Chris Hering said that changing the Bureau’s practice would just expose the department.
“What we try to do in our role here is to be fair and consistent and I think that we expose ourselves with further leniency,” Hering said.
Officials last week voided a $25 ticket issued to a New Canaan man who parked more than 12 inches from the curb on Main Street downtown one morning this summer. Joseph Somma told members of the Parking Commission during an appeal hearing that he’d been making a quick run from the New Canaan Field Club on the morning of June 24 (a Monday) to Baskin-Robbins to pick up ice cream for kids. A resident of New Canaan for 16 years, Somma spotted one parking space in front of the popular ice cream shop, pulled into it with his new truck and “didn’t realize how bad I did park,” he told the Commission during the Sept. 4 hearing, held at Town Hall. “I did park and I broke the rules.
New Canaan issued about 20% fewer parking tickets for the first eight months of 2018 compared to 2017, and the figure has declined again by an another approximately 5% this year, officials say. Total revenue from parking tickets also has declined in the year-to-date period since 2017, from about $263,000 to $231,000, according to new data released during Thursday’s meeting of the Parking Commission.
So far this year, the Parking Bureau itself has either dismissed or reduced the fines associated with tickets by some $52,000, according to the department’s manager, Stacy Miltenberg. “We are being lenient and merciful,” Miltenberg said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “We are going out there and we are trying to educate people, and maybe people don’t understand but we are trying to be a kinder and gentler department. I know some people don’t think we are.
Town officials last month voided a $30 ticket that had been issued to an out-of-town woman delivering large books to a Main Street business.
Terese Becker of Milford told members of the Parking Commission during her July 11 appeal hearing that she made just two trips to carry a total of about 12 large fabric and wallpaper books up to a business at 80 Main St. Becker said during her appeal hearing at Town Hall that she purposely parked in a loading zone on the morning of May 30 (a Thursday) near the corner of East Avenue because “actually I thought I was loading.”
The books themselves are long and heavy, she said. “So I literally took two trips from the car to the store, ran them up, two trips back down,” she told the Commission. “And I got a ticket. If I am not allowed to do that, that’s fine, I am happy to abide by the rules.