GREAT BARRINGTON — They say they scramble at the onset of a winter storm, confused, trying to figure out where they're allowed to park the car.

Sometimes they get it wrong, they later find, when they've got to fetch their car from the towing garage.

This has been the plight of some residents who live downtown as town snow plows rev up to clear the roads and on-street parking.

They say the town's winter parking policy is riddled with mysteries that have gotten them ticketed, or towed at $150 a pop.

But that changed Monday.

With an apology for all the confusion, Select Board Chairman Sean Stanton said the town is tightening the rules so residents will know exactly where to park downtown before an impending storm.

"It needs to be crystal clear," he said. "We need to have a map showing lots, signage in all the lots that allow that parking ... there has been a lot of confusion."

Now it's settled: No overnight on-street parking from Nov. 15 through March 30 between the hours of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Violations will result in a $20 ticket.

And any parked car that gets in the way of a Department of Public Works plow will be towed at owner expense.

These were the rules before the town last year loosened them somewhat to accommodate residents who live downtown.

Board members unanimously voted the new rules into effect and into the town's bylaws.

The new rules are effective immediately, said Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. Town police will begin reminding residents in the two-weeks prior to Nov. 1.

Tabakin said she came up with the new proposal after looking at how other towns restrict parking during winter.

"This is consistent with most other towns of our size in the Berkshires," she added.

Overnight parking is available in various downtown parking lots, including at Town Hall, the top of Railroad Street, Castle Street and the Mason Library.

The town's website, has a full list of parking lots, and signs will go up in lots that allow overnight parking.

But Select Board candidate Holly Hamer, who does not live downtown, said those parking lot privileges are abused by some.

"There are people who leave their car for an entire winter season," she said. "They're plowed in [and] you can see who it is."

Hamer said companies park their large trucks overnight; others leave cars to take the bus to New York City. She said in fairness to residents who live downtown, there should be some enforcement.

And Stanton said he wanted to make sure the parking map clearly identifies lots and their restrictions.

Tabakin said the idea of parking stickers is being tossed around among town officials.

The situation has embittered some.

Benjamin Abelow has been skewering the town over its winter parking policy since his car was towed during a January storm. He told the board that town police in December told him "overnight parking is permitted everywhere."

Fruitlessly he asked the board for reimbursement of the $148 he spent getting his car back, citing "many administrative and managerial failures."

Stanton said he sympathized, but that a reimbursement of money the town never received would set a precedent, especially after Tabakin noted that 11 vehicles were towed off the street during that same storm, despite police attempts to find residents by knocking on doors, and alert them to possible towing.

Stanton, noted that police, out of courtesy, had gone above and beyond their job descriptions to help residents avoid being towed.

When asked why on-street parking requires plowing, DPW Director Sean VanDeusen explained what will happen.

"Snow will freeze in those parking areas."

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871