Proposed ordinance would increase parking fines in Groton

Groton — The Town Council will introduce a proposal Tuesday to increase parking fines in town.

The proposed ordinance would raise parking fines from $10 to $20 for violations and increase fines from $25 to $50 for parking in fire lanes. Fines would double, to $40 and $100 respectively, if not paid within seven days.

Groton Town Police Chief L.J. Fusaro recommended the changes to bring fees in line with those in surrounding communities. The fines haven’t changed since the 1980s and, in some cases, people have told police they’d rather pay the $10 fine than find a legal place to park, Fusaro told the Town Council.

After introducing the proposal, the council is expected to schedule a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 in the Town Hall Annex. Money collected from fines would go into the town’s general fund.

Councilor Joe Zeppieri said Friday he believes people should have longer than seven days to pay a parking fine before it doubles. The town should raise fines to discourage illegal parking, but it's not a major crime so it shouldn't be a harsh punishment, he said.

"You don’t want to make it difficult, you just want them to think about it. I think it should be 30 days before it doubles," he said.

Some health conditions may prompt people to park illegally, such as instances where someone must park near a restroom, Zeppieri said. "Now they could take the trouble to challenge the ticket and they’d probably prevail, but that’s a lot of bother," he said.

Fines also should be payable by mail, rather than requiring payment in person at the police station, Zeppieri said. He raised the concerns initially when the proposal was discussed earlier this month.

Police Deputy Chief Paul Gately said by email Friday the department supports a reasonable amount of time to pay the fine. Fines typically are paid by mail in most instances, and paying by mail would be included in a revised ordinance, he said. Much of the language discussed regarding the initial proposal was based on existing language in the town ordinance, Gately said.

"The whole intent of this change is to update both the fine amount to a number that is reasonable and consistent with surrounding communities, while also updating language when necessary," he said. Any ordinance change would require the council's input, support and approval, he said.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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