Feb 13, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
New legal regulations, enforcement procedures and increased fines soon will take effect for anyone receiving a parking ticket in the village of Cazenovia.
The village board, at its Feb. 4 meeting, unanimously approved the changes to the village code in an effort to not only clarify the somewhat muddy procedures relating to parking violations, but also as a way to recoup unpaid fines, increase revenue, increase incentives for violators to pay their fines and hopefully improve the current state of parking availability in the village.
The major catalyst for the upcoming changes is the current state of unpaid parking tickets on the village books — currently about 1,600 tickets totaling roughly $64,000, said Cazenovia Village Police Chief Michael Hayes.
“A lot of these have been ignored for years, but we haven’t forgotten,” Hayes said. “We don’t want to boot vehicles and write tickets, but we spend a lot of money on this [parking] issue and we want to stop that. There are better uses for that money in the village budget.”
The updated code, which will become effective March 1, increases most of the enumerated parking violation fines from $20 to $25. It increases the violation for parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant from $25 to $50, and the violation for illegally parking in a handicapped zone from $25 to $75. It also lowers the fine for being double parked from $20 to $10.
The timeline for violators to either contest or pay their fine(s) also has become more stringent. Any fine not addressed by the violator within 10 days from the date of the violation will increase an additional $25. If the violation is not addressed within 30 days, the fine will increase an additional $25 (or a total of $50 above the original fine).
The previous procedure gave violators 30 days before additional fines or other actions, such as attaching an immobilizing “boot” to a vehicle’s tire until the fine is paid, would be taken by the village.
Although the existing code allows for police to boot a vehicle after one unpaid ticket, the department had been allowing violators three unpaid tickets as a courtesy before the device was used, Hayes said. The police will now be doing a more diligent enforcement and begin booting vehicles after only one unpaid ticket, Hayes said.
Another change in the ticketing procedure will be the allowance of “forgiveness” tickets to parking violators. The current procedures allow for one forgiven ticket — or “freebie” — to ticketed vehicles (identified by license plate number) every six months; the new procedure will allow for only one forgiveness per license plate number throughout the total existence of that number.
The village board and police department currently are considering — but have not approved — the implementation of a 30-day grace period to any violators, meaning if they pay their overdue fines within the grace period they will receive no additional fines.
“So now is the time [for violators] to take care of this,” Hayes said. “Your responsibility as a citizen is to dispute or pay the fines, [because this has not been happening] that has caused us to go this route.”
In addition to changing the parking violation fee schedule and enforcement guidelines, the village board also agreed at its Feb. 4 meeting to direct all parking ticket appeals to Village Attorney Jim Stokes rather than the village board or the village court. Stokes will therefore act as a sort of “district attorney” on the issue, said Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “It’s just a procedural thing,” he said.
Another parking issue the board addressed is to direct the police to begin a more vigorous enforcement of cars parked illegally along Emory Avenue. Last summer the village approved the widening of the street to allow for more parking in designated areas as a way to protect the historic village green from cars tearing up the grass by parking on it. People continue to park there, however, and a more “rigorous” enforcement is needed, Wheeler said.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Scheduled two work sessions for its 2013-14 budget for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, both at the village office meeting room. The work sessions, during which the board will go through its proposed budget line-by-line, are open to the public. Wheeler said the board will then decide at its March 4 meeting whether a third budget work session will be necessary or not.
—Scheduled a public hearing on the proposed local law to amend the village code regarding the placement of items such as tables and benches on the sidewalk in front of downtown businesses. The law, which is currently being written in official public law language from its current form as a proposal, will not change significantly from its current form, Wheeler said. The public hearing will occur at 6:55 p.m. Monday, March 4, prior to the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
—Held a brief discussion on developer Doug Shepard’s intended West Shore Gateway Development project on the current Trush property at the corner of routes 20 and 92 at the southern end of the lake. Shepard has made a purchase offer on the land with the intention of building a “gateway” project to offer and showcase local Madison County products. The sale is not yet complete and Shepard intends to ask for village annexation to utilize village water. However, a strip of privately-owned land lies between the property and the village, and the village cannot annex land that is not contiguous to the village. Shepard is currently “looking into” the issue and will present his plans to the village board at a future meeting, Wheeler said.
—Was informed by Trustee Amy Mann that the tree committee plans a special Arbor Day observance event on April 20 at which they will replant two sugar maple trees in Cannon Park to replace the two historic sugar maples the village was forced to cut down last year due to disease.
—Was asked by a group of area residents to pass a moratorium on gas drilling within village limits. Village Attorney Stokes said the village code already prohibits such activities and the issue of a moratorium is within the town’s domain, not the village’s. “It’s not going to happen in the village; it’s not allowed anywhere in the village,” Stokes said. “You’re talking to the wrong audience.” Wheeler said the village board is interested in the issue, however, and plans to have a joint meeting with the town board on hydrofracking in the near future, possibly in early March.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.