Sandwich police chief unveils plan to address parking enforcement, vehicle storage issues

Bianchi also backs plan to lower speed limit in residential neighborhoods

SANDWICH – Sandwich Police Chief James Bianchi is calling attention to ongoing parking issues in the city, including cars parked illegally, in residents’ front yards and speeding.

Bianchi told the Sandwich City Council recently the problems lower the quality of life for residents and have arisen because of the lack of enforcement by city officials, including his own department.

“This isn’t something that’s going to be fixed overnight,” Bianchi said. “There have been a lot of issues from all parts of the city government, including the police department where we have allowed things to get out of hand.”

To remedy the problems, Bianchi offered a three-step plan.

The first step, he said, would target the unauthorized parking of motor vehicles in the parkways, especially in the area between Latham, Center, Arnold and Eddie streets.

The parkway is the property between the street and the sidewalk and is owned by the city. Parking on the parkway is a violation under city ordinance, but Bianchi said his department has allowed it to go unenforced for so long that it has become a problem.

Bianchi said it isn’t just parking, but people have been putting up reflectors, unauthorized no-parking signs and even putting down gravel on the parkways in front of their homes.

The second step of Bianchi’s plan would address the problem of long-term storage of vehicles in yards, as well as numerous unregistered vehicles.

He said he would like to work with the city attorney to create an ordinance prohibiting storage of vehicles, including trailers, on the street.

The third step would address problems with speeding. Bianchi said he gets many complaints about speeding in the city’s residential areas and he would like to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph throughout the city.

He said most neighboring towns have imposed speed limits in residential areas between 20 and 25 mph and he would like a 25 mph speed limit set on all streets in the city. He added that if the council would like to designate certain streets to remain 30 mph, that could be done.

Bianchi said he plans to send a letter to every resident, attached with their water bill, notifying them that the city is going to start taking action on each of these issues.

The enforcement likely will begin June 1, after the notice in the mail. Liable property owners will receive citations and will have to appear in front of the administrative hearing officer, the chief said, during which time residents would be given an opportunity to remedy the issues.

“We’re not out for money,” Bianchi said. “We’re not out for the finance. We just want compliance.”

Bianchi presented his plan after a resident complained to the council at a prior meeting about the city’s lack of enforcement of its parking ordinance.

Bianchi met with the resident afterward and said he spent the weekend patrolling and observing the area in question before bringing his plan to the council.

He said in many cases, the violations have been allowed to go on for generations and that he was sure some people won’t be happy about the changes, but others would appreciate the efforts.

Bianchi said it would be a summerlong project for the department but he hoped to have everything in place by the time children are back in school.