Commercial trucks banned from parking long-term on city streets

After several months of refining the definition of commercial vehicles, Milford’s aldermen have adopted a regulation that bans commercial trucks from parking on city streets for long periods of time.

The aldermen amended an existing ordinance at a meeting Oct. 1 which bans the long-term parking of trailers, semi-truck trailers, boats, campers and other vehicles on city streets or rights-of-way.

The aldermen started looking at the ordinance this past summer because city officials were getting complaints from residents about large commercial vehicles parking regularly on neighborhood streets and in municipal lots. City officials began in August working to amend the 2016 ordinance that bans long-term parking of boats, jet skis, campers and other vehicles by adding the ban on commercial trucks. But some aldermen thought the revision might have unintended consequences, such as making it illegal for someone with a large pickup truck to park the vehicle in front of their house. So they revisited the regulation several times before they were satisfied pickup truck owners would not be affected.

Ultimately, the aldermen agreed on an amendment that defines commercial trucks as any vehicle requiring a commercial driver's license, or any vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds or having two rear axles or more and a capacity of more than one ton or measuring more than 21 feet long or eight feet high. Also banned under the revised ordinance are vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, with the exception of those used and housed at schools and houses of worship.

The ordinance specifically states that station wagons, compact type bus vehicles and pickup trucks used for private transportation are allowed to be parked on city streets. The ordinance does not apply to them.

Alderman Frank Smith said the amended ordinance addresses a problem and prohibits commercial vehicles from using city streets as commercial parking lots, which he said creates safety concerns, limits road access and visibility and creates ecological problems.

“The purpose is not to restrict normal commercial activity, rather to address the issue of commercial vehicles being parking perpetually on city streets for long periods of time,” Smith said.

Alderman Ray Vitali said he favored the ordinance, but questioned enforcement. “If we’re going to have something, it has to be enforced,” Vitali said. City Attorney Jonathan Berchem responded that there is an $85 fine for violating the ordinance.

Alderman Jeremy Grant, who did a lot of research into the weight of pickup trucks when the amendment first came up, thanked constituents and the board for spending so much time to achieve an ordinance “that will benefit the city and residents.”

“It will make our city safer,” Grant said.

It was Alderman Bryan Anderson who raised the issue of commercial vehicles being parked on city streets several months ago after hearing from a constituent who was angry that a commercial vehicle was often parked near his home, which is adjacent to Gulf Pond. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) got involved because the vehicle was leaking chemicals into the pond, Anderson said.

Anderson said the new regulation protects the city’s waterways, as well as making the city streets safer.

Aldermen Nick Veccharelli said he is still concerned that identifying a commercial vehicle as one that is more than 10,000 pounds might create a problem for people with big pickup trucks. But several other aldermen said they were confident that the exclusions protect pickup truck owners.

Alderman Anthony Giannattasio said the revised ordinance satisfied any concerns he had earlier. He said he knows people who are avid campers and hunters and who drive the large Ford F-350, which he said has a fifth wheel in the bed. “This is not going to affect their ability to park in front of their house,” Giannattasio said.