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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Aldermen pass ordinance barring businesses from parking inventory for rent, sale, lease on Nashua streets; downtown owner calls it “stupidity”

NASHUA – One alderman said it only solved concerns outside a fellow member’s window, but the board still passed a bill that will bar businesses with vehicles for sale, lease or rent from stashing inventory on city streets.

The ordinance, proposed by Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan, makes it unlawful for businesses to park any new or used vehicle for sale, lease or rent on a public street or in a city-owned parking lot. Violators will face a $50 fine, which will double after a week if they fail to pay up. ...

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NASHUA – One alderman said it only solved concerns outside a fellow member’s window, but the board still passed a bill that will bar businesses with vehicles for sale, lease or rent from stashing inventory on city streets.

The ordinance, proposed by Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan, makes it unlawful for businesses to park any new or used vehicle for sale, lease or rent on a public street or in a city-owned parking lot. Violators will face a $50 fine, which will double after a week if they fail to pay up.

“I want to be clear that it’s inventory we have an issue with and being properly stored,” said Sheehan, suggesting a business owner could put a “for sale” on his or her personal car in a
city lot without violating the ordinance.

Sheehan raised the ordinance a month ago based on problems she’s had in her ward with Rod’s Automotive, which is at 16 Railroad Square. Owner Rod MacIntyre parks a U-Haul truck for rent at the corner of Canal and Orange streets, blocking the street and creating hazards for drivers and pedestrians – particularly during the winter, Sheehan has said.

“That is outrageous,” MacIntyre, who’s run Rod’s Automotive for 40 years, said on Wednesday. “You would think they have bigger fish to fry than me.”

“This has a big impact on the neighborhood,” Sheehan told aldermen Tuesday. “The leaving of inventory in the streets just isn’t the way a business should be run.”

Last month, the aldermen’s Infrastructure Committee reviewed the ordinance, voting to recommend final passage.

But Alderman-at-Large Mark Cookson, the committee chairman, said he would not vote for Sheehan’s bill Tuesday because the issue was so specific to her neighborhood.

“There were several wonderful points about ordinances that are already in place that aren’t being enforced, and now we’re putting another ordinance in place to address a concern outside of an alderman’s window,” Cookson said.

Ward 2 Alderman Rick Dowd also questioned whether the new ordinance would be as moot as other parking ordinances in the city that are often not enforced. But Sheehan said there are enough gaps in existing city rules to call for hers.

Sheehan’s initial ordinance proposed a $125 fine for violators that would double to $250 for late payments. But Ward 9 Alderman Dan Moriarty talked it down to the $50 charge, calling Sheehan’s proposal “cruel and unusual” for being on par with tickets for parking in handicapped spots or for blocking fire hydrants.

“It’s not that egregious,” Moriarty said.

Board of Public Works Commissioner Tracy Pappas, who said she often walks through French Hill, issued a letter in support of Sheehan’s motion last March.

Nashua resident Douglas Huntley, a customer at Jesus Grocery on Orange Street, also wrote a letter thanking Sheehan for the ordinance, citing how difficult it is to drive near the convenience store.

On Wednesday morning, MacIntyre said his U-Haul already was parked on Orange Street – which Sheehan has said is his practice from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

He planned to move it after The Telegraph called seeking reaction about the ordinance passing.

“I don’t understand what we’re accomplishing here,” MacIntyre said. “How about I go take my personal vehicle and park it there?”

MacIntyre also questioned whether the Nashua Police Department will be able to determine if a U-Haul parked on city streets is a rental vehicle owned by a business, or a truck rented out of by a resident.

Sheehan has said the problem is generally isolated to her ward.

“There’s other issues going on in this neighborhood they could address besides my one lousy U-Haul truck,” MacIntyre said. “It’s stupidity. This is what’s wrong with our government.”

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).