Chalking tires returns to Bellows Falls

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BELLOWS FALLS — Bellows Falls police have resumed enforcing downtown parking regulations — including the chalking of tires — after a brief hiatus.

Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake halted enforcement in the village about two weeks ago because of a recent federal court ruling related to a parking dispute in Saginaw, Michigan. The ruling found the use of chalking tires to enforce parking regulations unconstitutional.

Lake said he asked the Vermont League of Cities and Towns for a recommendation on the issue. Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison said the village attorney said because the ruling affects a different part of the United States, parking enforcement via chalking of tires could resume in Bellows Falls. The court's ruling directly affected the states of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Harrison said the village police department recently resumed responsibility for enforcing the village's two-hour parking limit. She said the attorney told her that chalking tires left the village with "minimal liability" since the court's jurisdiction is far from Vermont.

Bellows Falls did away with parking meters many years ago, and relies on chalking of tires to monitor the length of parking in the downtown area.

"It's very important for us to keep enforcing the two hours," Harrison said. "It's the only way we can make sure people don't overstay. Parking is free in Bellows Falls, so we have to enforce it," she said.

Other towns that still have meters don't have to worry about chalking, she said. Last year, the village had a volunteer parking enforcement officer, Cass Wright, who left the position in December. Since then, the village has advertised for another volunteer to take over the parking — and chalking — duties, but no one has come forward, Harrison said.

"We're happy to entertain one or more volunteers," she said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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