[HISTORY: Adopted by the Legislative Council of the Town of Newtown 1-18-1978 (Ord. No. 34); amended 9-17-2003; 1-21-2009; 1-19-2011. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town of Newtown Fire Marshal or the Fire Marshal's designee shall have the power to designate fire lanes within the Town of Newtown. (The designation of fire lanes within the Town of Newtown will be at the discretion of the Fire Marshal. Not all areas are required to be designated fire lanes or required to have appropriate signs and markings.) The Fire Marshal shall establish fire lanes pursuant to the General Statutes of the State of Connecticut and/or the Fire Safety Code of the State of Connecticut.
A fire lane is a designated, unobstructed passageway sufficient in size to permit free passage of fire and other emergency equipment from a public highway to all necessary areas or portions of any private or public property as hereinafter set forth.
The Fire Marshal or the Fire Marshal's designee shall establish fire lanes pursuant to the General Statutes of the State of Connecticut and/or the Fire Safety Code of the State of Connecticut. The Fire Marshal shall establish a fire lane by written order. A copy of such order shall be delivered to the owner of the property or the property owner's agent.
Once the Fire Marshal has designated a fire lane, the owner or agent of the owner shall cause to be erected, or installed, adequate signs, markings and other devices to delineate such fire lanes. Such signs and markings shall be installed, if the premises are privately owned, at the expense of the owner and shall be erected by the owner within 30 days after receipt of written notice from the Fire Marshal directing the installation of such signs or markings. Such signs and markings shall conform to the federal requirements for uniform traffic control devices. In addition, it shall be the responsibility of the owner or agent of the owner to maintain such signs and markings so that they are always visible and identifiable and to maintain such signs and markings so that they are kept free of ice, snow, or any other material which would obstruct the lawful use of said fire lane.
Whenever the Fire Marshal establishes a fire lane, a copy of the order shall be filed with the Board of Fire Commissioners and with the Newtown Department of Police Services. Any party aggrieved by such order may file with the Board of Fire Commissioners a written appeal setting forth the reasons for the appeal. Such appeal must be filed within 15 business days of the issuance of said order. The Board of Fire Commissioners shall place all written appeals on the agenda of its regularly scheduled meeting for due consideration and deliberation. The Board of Fire Commissioners may affirm, modify or rescind such order.
The property owner or agent for the property owner has 30 days from the date of establishment of a fire lane and/or a decision from any appeal to the Newtown Board of Fire Commissioners to install and mark said fire lane. If, after 30 days, the signs and markings have not been erected, the Town of Newtown may opt to cause the installation of the required signs and markings through a third-party vendor or through the Town of Newtown Department of Public Works. Said costs for such installation of signs and markings will be collected as a municipal fee in the same manner as municipal taxes.
No person shall park or stand a motor vehicle in an established fire lane except when actually picking up or discharging passengers.
The Police Department is authorized and empowered to remove any vehicle or vehicles parked or standing in an established fire lane.
The procedure for removing and towing such vehicles shall be according to law and according to policies of the Newtown Department of Police Services.
Whenever any vehicle is found parked in a fire lane, it may be removed by or under the direction of a member of the Police Department by means of towing to a public or private parking facility. Such removal of any vehicle shall be deemed the abatement of a nuisance and shall be at the risk of the owner or person entitled to the possession of such vehicle. The removed vehicle shall be impounded until the towing fees and charges provided in this chapter are paid by the owner or person entitled to possession of the vehicle.
Any violations of this chapter, as it relates to parking in a fire lane or the installation of signs and markings for designated fire lanes, shall constitute an offense against this chapter and shall be punishable by a fine of $35. Each day the violation continues shall be a separate offense.
The First Selectman, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, shall appoint one citation hearing officer to conduct the hearing authorized by § 132-7. Police officers or other persons authorized to issue citations may not serve as hearing officers.
The Town of Newtown, at any time within 12 months from the expiration of the final period for the uncontested payment of fines, penalties, costs or fees for any citation issued under any ordinance adopted pursuant to C.G.S. § 7-148 for an alleged violation thereof, shall send notice to the party cited. Such notice shall inform the party cited:
Of the allegations against the party and the amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees due;
That the party may contest the liability of the party before a citation hearing officer by delivering in person or by mail written notice within 10 days of the date thereof;
That if the party cited does not demand such a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against the party; and
That such judgment may issue without further notice.
If the party to whom the notice is sent pursuant to Subsection A of this section wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, the party may, without requesting a hearing, pay the full amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees admitted to in person or by mail to an official designated by such municipality. Such payment shall be inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of such party or other party making the payment. Any party who does not deliver or mail written demand for a hearing within 10 days of the date of the first notice provided for in Subsection A of this section shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the designated municipal official shall certify such party's failure to respond to the hearing officer. The hearing officer shall thereupon enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees provided for by the applicable ordinances and shall follow the procedures set forth in Subsection D of this section.
Any party who requests a hearing shall be given written notice of the date, time and place for the hearing. Such hearing shall be held not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date of the mailing of notice, provided the hearing officer shall grant, upon good cause shown, any reasonable request by any interested party for postponement or continuance. An original or certified copy of the initial notice of violation issued by the issuing official or policeman shall be filed and retained by the municipality, and shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of C.G.S. § 52-180 and evidence of the facts contained therein. The presence of the issuing official or policeman shall be required at the hearing if such party so requests. A party wishing to contest its liability shall appear at the hearing and may present evidence on its behalf. If such party fails to appear, the hearing officer may enter an assessment by default against the party upon a finding of proper notice and liability under the applicable statutes or ordinances. The hearing officer may accept from such party copies of police reports, investigatory and citation reports, and other official documents by mail and may determine thereby that the appearance of such party is unnecessary. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing in the order and form and with such methods of proof as the hearing officer deems fair and appropriate. The rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. The hearing officer shall announce the decision at the end of the hearing. If the hearing officer determines that the party is not liable, the matter shall be dismissed and the determination entered in writing accordingly. If the hearing officer determines that the party is liable for the violation, the hearing officer shall enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees against such party as provided by the applicable ordinances of the municipality.
If such assessment is not paid on the date of its entry, the hearing officer shall send by first class mail a notice of the assessment to the party found liable and shall file, not less than 30 days nor more than 12 months after such mailing, a certified copy of the notice of assessment with the Clerk of a Superior Court facility designated by the Chief Court Administrator, together with an entry fee of $8. The certified copy of the notice of assessment shall constitute a record of assessment. Within such twelve-month period, assessments against the same party may be accrued and filed as one record of assessment. The Clerk shall enter judgment, in the amount of such record of assessment and court costs of $8, against such party in favor of the municipality. Notwithstanding any provision of the General Statutes, the hearing officer's assessment, when so entered as a judgment, shall have the effect of a civil money judgment, and a levy of execution on such judgment may issue without further notice to such party.
A party against whom an assessment has been entered pursuant to this section is entitled to judicial review by way of appeal. An appeal shall be instituted within 30 days of the mailing of notice of such assessment by filing a petition to reopen assessment, together with any entry fee in an amount equal to the entry fee for a small claims case pursuant to C.G.S. § 52-259, at a Superior Court facility designated by the Chief Court Administrator, which shall entitle such party to a hearing in accordance with the rules of the judges of the Superior Court.