Selectmen Vote 3-2 To Deny Resident’s Request For Stop Sign At Intersection

WILMINGTON, MA — A resident’s request to have a stop sign installed at the intersection of Garden Avenue and King Street was narrowly denied by the Board of Selectmen at its meeting last week.

Wilmington Town Manager Jeff Hull explained that Deputy Police Chief Bob Richter and DPW Operations Manager Jamie Migaldi evaluated the request using the Federal Highway’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

According to the manual, stop signs should be used if engineering judgment indicates that one or more of the following conditions exist:

  1. Intersection of a less important road with a main road where application of the normal right-of-way rule would not be expected to provide reasonable compliance with the law;
  2. Street entering a through highway or street;
  3. Unsignalized intersection in a signalized area; and/or
  4. High speeds, restricted view, or crash records indicate a need for control by the STOP sign.

Richter and Migaldi found that the intersection didn’t merit a stop sign in this instance because none of the four conditions were met.

Despite the town’s recommendation, several Selectmen weren’t comfortable denying the request, which came about as a result of an accident that occurred at the intersection.

“I don’t see a problem with the request,” said Selectman Greg Bendel. “You’re coming down a hill onto a busy street. You’re probably going to stop anyway, but there’s a stop sign on the other side of the street. Why not on this side? I don’t think it would be a bad idea.”

“The stop sign across the street was actually not authorized by the Board of Selectmen. It was put up at some point in the past,” responded Town Manager Jeff Hull.  “From a traffic enforcement standpoint, police wouldn’t be able to enforce that sign since it’s not authorized by the Selectmen.” [Editor’s Note: Wilmington Apple hopes to follow up to see how many other stop signs in town are ‘unauthorized.’]

“I live near this intersection. I’m on this street everyday. I was troubled by this too,” said Selectman Mike Champoux.  “King Street is not really a dead end; it’s more of a thru-street. I’d be willing to ask the Town Manager to again review that specific condition and see if there’s some flexibility. I don’t see a problem with a stop sign there, but I also don’t want to start a precedent [of approving stop signs against the experts’ recommendations].”

Hull pointed out that, based on one year of recent crash records, there was one accident at the intersection and one of the parties involved was under the influence.

“It’s not a high accident intersection,” said Hull.

Selectman Greg Bendel made a motion to support the stop sign installation, which was seconded by Selectman Mike McCoy. Bendel and McCoy voted in favor. Caira, Champoux, and Loud voted against.

“I’m opposed right now, but I would like to have future discussion on this,” said Selectman Ed Loud, echoing Selectman Champoux’s desire for Hull to bring the request back to Migaldi and Richter for a second look.

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