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Lebanon City Council Rejects Proposed Overnight Parking Ordinance

Rebecca Sananes
Protestors gathered outside City Hall in Lebanon, N.H. Wednesday ahead of a City Council meeting where nearly 100 people spoke out against a proposed ordinance to ban overnight parking on city property. The council declined to take up the ordinance.

The City Council of Lebanon, New Hampshire has declined to take up a proposed ordinance that would ban overnight parking on city property. 

The ordinance would have prohibited Lebanon's homeless population from parking the vehicles they live in.

Before the city council meeting Wednesday evening, people gathered on the steps of the Lebanon City Hall, carrying signs in protest.“More services! No new fines!” the crowd said together.

Over the course of a two-hour public hearing, nearly 100 people came to the microphone and spoke with outrage against the parking ban and the impact it would have on the homeless population in Lebanon and beyond.

People experiencing homelessness spoke, as well as legislators, representatives of local non-profits and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

During his turn at the microphone, Hanover resident Dwight Aspinwall offered to fund facilities in a contested empty lot behind the Hannaford near I-89 where many homeless are currently living.

Not one member of the community spoke in favor of passing the ban on parking.  

Several city council members noted that they had never seen such passion and attendance at a Lebanon City Council meeting before.

City Councilor Sarah Welsch urged the community to join the council in efforts to help find solutions for the homeless population.

“We cannot do this by ourselves. We need help from as many people as possible,” she said. Welling up with tears, she continued, “you have touched my heart, very deeply by being here. That's the most important thing.”

The city manager and several council members will create a task force to find solutions for the homeless population.

They will also be taking a registry of names of those living in the parking lot in order to ensure public safety. 

Rebecca Sananes was VPR's Upper Valley Reporter. Before joining the VPR Newsroom, she was the Graduate Fellow at WBUR and a researcher on a Frontline documentary.
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