In the span of four minutes Tuesday evening, a special Town Meeting was called to order, a motion was made, voters weighed in, and the meeting was adjourned.
Wilmington resident Jack Dolan, who had circulated a petition calling for a vote on the ordinance, offered the motion to “disapprove the traffic ordinance adopted by the selectboard on August 2.”
Selectboard chair Tom Fitzgerald, who was standing in as moderator for the evening, explained that that an “aye” vote would be a vote to reject the changes, and a “nay” vote would be a vote to approve the selectboard’s changes.
Town clerk Susan Haughwout clarified that if the motion were passed, the previously adopted 2010 ordinance would be in effect.
When Fitzgerald called for discussion, voters were silent. When he called for a vote, the room responded in unison with a loud “aye!” Only one voter responded to the moderator’s call for “nays.”
“The ordinance is gone,” Fitzgerald said, before calling for a motion to adjourn.
Dolan’s petition was prompted by his concerns about a winter ban on overnight parking in two municipal parking areas that had been included in the selectboard’s amendments to the ordinance. The selectboard made the changes in response to a request from the highway department. According to selectboard members, the highway department had experienced difficulty clearing the Dixon lot on South Main Street and the Church Street lot when drivers failed to remove their vehicles after snowstorms.
Dolan, however, said he was concerned about people who live in downtown apartments without onsite parking, as well as those who work late at downtown businesses. At a selectboard meeting to discuss the issue, Dolan noted that people who work downtown are also prohibited from using roadside parking during early morning hours to allow snow removal. “So where are they going to go?” he asked the board. “There’s got to be a way to solve the problem without a blanket ban on overnight parking for the winter.”
Dolan was joined by downtown property owners Todd Gareiss and Mary Jane Finnegan. Gareiss said the ban devalued his commercial and residential building on South Main Street adjacent to the Dixon parking lot. Finnegan, who owns the Wilmington Village Pub building, said she has four residential tenants in the building who have no other parking option. She also noted that the Village Pub staff are often at work as late as 3:30 am – an hour and a half after the 2 am ban would go into effect. She said the employees need to be able to park in a place that’s safe to walk to at the early hour.