MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday voted to approve new parking regulations that will expand 12-hour meter enforcement across the downtown area, while they rejected a fee for resident parking permits.
The aldermen further voted to suspend rules that would have required the new ordinances to pass through two more committees, with the goal of having the regulations go into effect in time for the start of the new fiscal year July 1. The parking ordinances have been reviewed and amended several times since February.
In addition to extended meter enforcement, the charge for all meters would be 75 cents an hour, and the cost of monthly permits at most lots and garages would increase by $10. The changes are projected to bring in an additional $450,000 annually.
The main sticking point in passing the ordinances was a $100 fee for resident permits that people living downtown could get to park in spaces without having to feed meters.
The traffic and public safety committee earlier in the day voted 3-2 to recommend removing the resident permit fee while passing the other regulations.
Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long said he was concerned the fee would discourage people from moving downtown and would be onerous for low-income residents.
But Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy disagreed.
“I believe we should be charging for residential permits,” he said. “I don’t think we should be giving these away for free,” he said.
The city currently issues 530 resident permits free of charge.
After a short debate, the full board voted to approve the changes without the permit fee. Only Ward 12’s Keith Hirschmann and Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur voted no.
With the changes, parking meters will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday, across the entire downtown area, from the Millyard to Union Street, and from Harrison Street in the north to Granite Street. Meters would also be enforced on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Elm Street from Bridge Street to Auburn Street.