BRUNSWICK — An emergency ordinance amendment prohibiting nonresident overnight parking on Page Street was unanimously approved Monday by the Town Council.
Under the new rules, vehicles that do not bear a Police Department-issued permit are prohibited from parking on the street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Page Street property owners will be limited to two $25 permits, issued annually.
District 1 Councilor Jane Millett introduced the measure last month after residents raised concerns about the number of vehicles using the street for long-term parking.
Millett and residents suspected that Bowdoin College students were parking on the street near the college, instead of using designated student parking areas near Farley Field House.
Up to 10 vehicles were parked “rather carelessly” on the street for long periods of time, Millett said at Monday’s meeting.
Residents have reported that issues with long-term parking only started after the college implemented new campus parking rules last year.
Congestion on the narrow street raised concern that emergency vehicles would not be able to reach homes, Millett said at Monday’s meeting.
A snow storm in late November exacerbated the situation, since town crews could not adequately clear the street, forcing cars to park farther from the curb.
The council delayed action on the amendment, modeled on a similar arrangement on Longfellow Avenue, so it could hold a public hearing.
In the meantime, police placed a temporary overnight parking ban on Page street.
The temporary measure showed that a permanent ordinance would work, Page Street resident Steve Perkinson told councilors, noting that a feared spillover of student parking onto nearby streets had not occurred.
The overnight ban “does a really nice job of getting us back to where we were,” with daytime parking and occasional overnight parking, Perkinson told the council.
While the council was largely supportive of the measure, some members had misgivings. The ordinance finally received unanimous support after a provision to review it after the first year was included.
Councilor John Perreault, who aired concerns about the ban when Millett first introduced it, said he was still uncertain if it had more to do with life safety or keeping Bowdoin students from parking in the neighborhood.
Perreault also suggested setting up a committee to take a comprehensive look at Brunswick’s in-town parking regulations, so the council would not have to amend regulations on a street-by-street basis.
“We need to take a look at this as a long-term thing,” Perreault said.
Councilor John Richardson said he “struggled” to come to terms with asking residents to pay to park on a public street and questioned whether the measure would put people who lived in the handful of rental properties on the street at a disadvantage.
While she initially had concerns that permits could create an equity issue between renters and property owners, Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Brayman said she had been convinced by landlords that the arrangement would not affect their tenants.
The permit policy was accepted as a compromise by Page Street residents, Brayman noted, and although some concern lingered, it seemed to be the most workable option.
“I don’t want the perfect to become the enemy of the good in this situation,” Brayman stated.
The measure passed 8-0. Councilor Suzan Wilson was absent from the meeting.