At Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting Luann Bellantoni, Parking Services Business Manager, proposed to amend rules about parking ticket appeal hearings.
She said prior to the pandemic hearings were held in town hall in person, but since Covid the hearings have been conducted exclusively via telephone.
A person who gets a ticket has 15 days to appeal. There are instructions on the citation on how to appeal. Appeals are filed electronically and the person provides their email address and phone number. Parking Services will reach out via email up to three times with available hearing dates. The person appealing is allowed to reschedule once.
“If someone comes in and they don’t have an email address, we will take the application on paper,”Bellantoni explained. “They provide a husband, wife, sibling or child’s email so we can then confirm – or we confirm it on the spot.”
Appeals go into a queue to be vetted.
“If any errors were made on our part, we void the ticket,” Bellantoni said. “If not, it is vetted and moves along to the appeal process.”
There are six hearing officers and they are not affiliated with the Parking Service Dept. Hearings take place once a week.
Initially, early in the pandemic, hearing officers made some of their calls from the police department.
“As you can understand, some people might be reticent when they see on the caller ID that it is Greenwich Police Dept,” she added. “So we opted to get our own dedicated cell phone and provide the appellants the caller ID so they know to expect the call on a designated day, within a two hour window.”
Before the pandemic, people would come Town hall to plead their case in-person. They would wait their turn in the Mazza room for their name to be called by the hearing officer and come out to the hall for the actual hearing.
And while those interactions ended with the hearing officer issuing a decision, in the new process, the hearing officers do not divulge their decision during the phone call.
Now, decisions are sent via email.
“That cuts down on the disagreements that hearing officers in the past have had to deal with,” she added. “We’d like to enact this going forward. Covid or no Covid, I think this is the best way to go because people don’t have to make their way to Town Hall. They just set aside a two-hour window. It’s worked like a charm.”
Bellantoni said putting together appeals packets was a labor intense process, and the telephonic hearings saved time.
“It’s also enabled us to get current, where in the past we were 6-9 months behind,” she continued. “Right now you don’t have to wait more than two weeks to obtain a hearing.”
Selectperson Oberlander suggested the town legal department review the language in the proposed ordinance change – particularly about the right to appeal a decision.
The First Selectman agreed, and Ms Bellantoni agreed to return before the Selectmen in two weeks.