ANDOVER — Residents can now park their cars on streets overnight during the winter as long as there is no snow in the forecast to force a temporary ban.
In years past, the town would implement a mandatory winter parking ban between Dec. 1 and April 1, in which all vehicles parked on streets between 1 and 6 a.m. for more than an hour would be ticketed — even if there wasn't any snow.
This year, police Chief Brian Pattullo asked the selectmen last week to suspend the rules and try a pilot winter parking program. Under it, residents will only have to park off the street if a "snow emergency parking ban" is declared by the Police Department.
When a ban is declared, there will be no parking at any time on all town streets until the declaration is lifted. Any vehicle in violation will be ticketed and towed at the owner's expense.
Pattullo said the bans will be declared with as much notice as possible, based on the forecast. Police officials recommend residents "take it upon themselves not to park on public ways if there is snow in the forecast."
In a 5-0 vote, the selectmen supported the chief's request. The revised ban will take effect tomorrow. The bans will be broadcast on cable access and posted on the town and Police Department websites.
Pattullo said the parking ban bylaw was written during a time when most homes only had one vehicle.
"That is the exception now, not the norm — so we are trying to be a little more accommodating for the residents," he said.
The pilot program will be evaluated during the first several snowstorms and if it doesn't work, the old ban can be put back in place, Pattullo said.
If the pilot program were to become permanent, it would have to go before Town Meeting for the bylaw change, Pattullo said.