WISCASSET — Residents of Wiscasset who park in municipal lots take note: The Select Board has approved a $25 parking permit for use of the lots in winter.

At its regular meeting Jan. 9, the select board decided to create a parking permit system between Nov. 1 and April 14. Anyone parking in municipal lots will need a permit, and will also need to make sure their car is moved following winter storms.

Those weather events are the primary motivation behind implementing the fee, said Town Manager Marian Anderson.

“We’re not trying to deter people who use the parking lots as they’re intended,” she said. “We’ve had issues with folks that have been parking their cars in the municipal parking lots, and they don’t move them; they’re there all winter.”

Over the past few years, some residents left vehicles for the whole season. The cars often get snowed in, forcing public works to plow around them.

A parking permit would include driver information, allowing Wiscasset Police to get in touch with a vehicle’s owner if it’s left in place after the storm. The goal would be to get residents to move their cars.

However, if need be, parking tickets and towing could result.

Initially, the Select Board debated whether $25 was a high enough fee for a permit, but Board Chair Judith Colby said, “Less than $5 a month is pretty cheap for parking.”

Select Board member Robert Blagden said he felt charging for a permit at all was unnecessary. “It just seems like another tax, frankly,“ he said, adding that he is aware of some residents who park multiple cars in lots for long periods of time. He cited one instance where a resident left up to four cars in a lot, many of which were stationary for months to the point they might not have been able to move them even if they attempted to.

Despite that, Blagden cautioned the town on adversely affecting residents who use the lots without issue.

Anderson said the fee is partially to offset the cost of maintaining the parking lot. “The comment that I hear in the office is ‘well, the town doesn’t provide me with parking for my property,’” she said.

After implementing the permit, the Select Board discussed what sort of penalty should be implemented for those who ignore the rules. According to Wiscasset Police Chief Jeffrey Lange, most illegal parking fees are $20.

In the end, the board approved a $25 permit, with penalties for anyone parking without a permit or failing to move their vehicle after a winter storm to be a $20 fine. Repeated offenses can lead to towing, the cost of which will be incurred by the owner of the vehicle.

For more information, visit wiscasset.org.

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