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Warren school bus parking moved

Recently applied zoning regulations in Warren will prevent school busses from parking at the town garage site; the building was classified as a "closed public facility" last summer when the town added a work trailer to the site.

Warren school bus driver Susan Swenson was present at the November 16 Warren Select Board meeting to ask the town to revisit the new parking arrangement that will likely result in the school busses parking in the school's traffic circle.

Swenson said that she had spoken with Principal Dr. Andreas Lehner, who also submitted a letter to the select board asking the board to allow the busses to use the town garage space during the winter months only.

Lehner listed several alternatives for parking bus four, including the back lot of the school and the traffic circle; both have locations to plug in the busses overnight. Swenson told town officials that winter maintenance would be made difficult for the road crew if one bus parked in the circle.

"I have no problem with moving the bus up to the school, but it's going to make it difficult for anyone that plows. Ray agreed with me," she said.

Select board chair Andy Cunningham said that the way he understood it, "Part of the zoning of our town garage is that it is a non-public building; it's not open to the public, but it is town owned. We can ask for clarification."

Article 10 of the town's zoning ordinance defines a public facility as a "building or other facility owned, leased, held, used and/or controlled exclusively for public purposed by the town of Warren, or any other department or branch of government. Such a facility may be further characterized as 'open' to general public (e.g., town office, meeting hall, post office) or 'closed' to the general public (e.g., highway maintenance facility, utility substation, solid waste facility) (see section 4.14)."

Swenson said, "I don't want to have to see them plowing around the school bus; the fact that I don't leave the school yard until 6:50 a.m., they will have already plowed and they'll have to come back, plow it again, where our busses were parked."

Cunningham said that busses that aren't owned by Warren use the lot and have to contribute to the electric bill.

"Do we want to pay that through the town and our town garage budget or pay as a part of the school budget? Anything part of the school budget hits us over the head by the state extracting from us," Cunningham said.

In addition, Cunningham listed the municipal lot as a possible option for parking.

Select board member Bob Ackland asked, "What is the problem with parking it at the town garage? Are we infringing on space for the road crew?"

Warren Department of Public Works director Barry Simpson said that in his conversations with Lehner, it is the way the school busses would be plugged in overnight.

"The only way we can plug the bus in at the school is to run an extension cord from an exterior outlet out across two walkways to the bus. I don't think it's a zoning issue. I think it's a ruling."

Cunningham said that the "key thing is, do we treat it like a town vehicle?"

Simpson said, "We have a town fleet, organized into different departments: school, town and highway."

Cunningham said he would speak with the zoning administrator to discuss possible winter parking alternatives for bus four.

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