‘Do Not Block The Box’ Ordinance Targeting Four Intersections
Correction: A photo cutline and the story have been edited to note one of the intersections is Route 25, not Route 302.
The Police Commission is focusing its Do Not Block The Box initiative on four intersections in town after a related ordinance proposal was sent back to commissioners by the Legislative Council’s Ordinance Subcommittee and the Town Attorney.
At its March 7 meeting, the Police Commission learned that by Connecticut state statute, the proposed ordinance must identify what specific intersections are to be included. Then, if commissioners want to add more intersections in the future, the ordinance must be amended.
Do Not Block The Box is an ordinance designed to create open zones designated by painting line patterns to warn drivers against blocking specific areas of intersections. The ordinance would permit installing the painted warning grids as well as posting signs notifying operators where their stationary vehicles can and cannot be when stopped.
According to the minutes of the January 30 Ordinance Subcommittee meeting, Police Commissioner Neil Chaudhary reported that many out-of-town residents travel through these intersections, and while there are proposed fines for offenses, the “real value of the ordinance” is the ability to post signs and paint lines at where a town road and a state road intersect.
That effort must be backed by town ordinance before it can be approved by the state Department of Transportation.
During the March 7 police commission meeting, Chaudhary suggested the commission brainstorm what intersections should be included in the ordinance. He said if the town is not intending to put signs up and paint lines at the intersection, it shouldn’t be included in the ordinance.
Only intersections the town is looking to immediately mark should be included.
The commission, following discussions, settled on the intersections of Country Club Road and Route 25, Walnut Tree Hill and Church Hill Road, Elm Drive and Sugar Street (State Route 302), and at Berkshire Road (Route 34) and the Newtown High School driveway.
The proposed intersections were approved unanimously by the three commissioners present, Faxon, Chaudhary, and Scott Cicciari.
Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the town has the money to stripe all the proposed intersections, so that “will not be an impediment.”
Police Captain Brian Bishop said once the Legislative Council approves the amended ordinance, the town will need to apply for an encroachment permit with the state. Hurley said the application will not be a problem, the town has done it before and it’s both quick and easy.
In other Police Commission news, concerns over parking at the Fairfield Hills Campus has the Fairfield Hills Authority asking about the possibility of “No Parking” signs being put up.
Bishop said there are temporary, plastic no parking signs up, but the campus authority wants town signs to match the other signs on campus aesthetically. Bishop stated that Newtown Youth Academy (NYA) Sports & Fitness Center has large events; large numbers of cars park on the grass areas near the center.
He said that at the most recent event, someone from NYA was directing cars to park on the grass.
Police cannot ticket or tow vehicles because there are no signs notifying drivers of no parking. The only current police enforcement would involve vehicles blocking a fire lane.
The commission would have to vote on designating areas for no parking if those areas are not already designated, according to Faxon. Faxon said if they are going to make a change to how people are parking there, it needs to be done “authoritatively.”
Faxon also believed that the commission may not be able to control parking off the area designated as the NYA’s driveway.
Hurley said that while curbing often prevents on-grass parking near the entrances to the campus, the area near the NYA has no curbing and is a “whole different animal.” He said those large areas of grass will “look attractive” to motorists looking to park, and they would “figure they are not hurting anything.”
The commission is expected to bring the issue back up at a future meeting. In the meantime, Cicciari suggested that town representatives contact NYA and let them know that parking in the grass is “not permissible.”
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.