Comma added to West Jeff parking law

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(Posted July 9, 2015)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Last week, West Jefferson village council inserted a sorely needed comma in an old piece of legislation, but not before a couple of council members tried unsuccessfully to further amend the ordinance.

Back on March 28, 1989, council approved an ordinance that stated that vehicles parked longer than 24 hours on streets are subject to fines and towing. However, the lack of a comma between the words “motor vehicle” and “camper” recently resulted in one person taking the village at its punctuation. She appealed her fine on the basis that her vehicle was not a “motor vehicle camper,” and an appeals court agreed with her.

The appeal that brought the comma to light involved a situation this past winter when snow was piled around parked vehicles. Mayor Darlene Steele said it is important that vehicles should be off the streets so crews can plow the streets. She also said that parking issues are the bulk of the calls she receives.

An ordinance to insert the comma came up at council’s July 6 meeting.

Councilman Jim King wanted to amend the statute further by extending the 24-hour limit to 48 hours. Sergeant Rob Campbell, the police officer assigned to council meetings, explained that motorists already have plenty of grace time.

He said that officers are notified of an overparked vehicle after 24 hours and then an officer marks the wheels. If the vehicle is not moved within 24 hours, officers then place stickers on the vehicle, advising owners to move the vehicle.

“You’re looking at four to five days before a vehicle is moved,” Campbell said.

Council member Ray Martin wanted to further amend the ordinance to add the word “any” before each class of vehicle, but his proposal fell flat.

Council did vote on King’s proposal, tallying a 3-3 tie. King, Martin and Doug Eakins voted in favor of a 48-hour limit. Council members Ron Garver, Steve Johnston and Randy Otis voted against it. Council member Cory Coburn was absent.

“Four votes are needed to pass it,” Garver said. The proposed amendment failed.

King voted against the comma insertion, which passed with a 5-1 vote. He said he voted against it because he couldn’t get the extension to 48 hours.

“The police are doing a good job now, but I’m looking to the future,” he said.

Target donation

Council accepted a $3,000 from Target for the Police Department.

Chief Terry Ward said he wants to purchase 360 bicycle helmets to be given to children at National Night Out in August. Additionally, he will use some of the money for lights and a siren on a patrol bicycle and the purchase of bike patrol uniforms.

“I appreciate what Target is doing. They are a good neighbor,” said Councilman Martin. “I would like to see more businesses out there be like Target.”

Pool problems

The 19 straight days of rain in June put a damper on attendance at the municipal pool. To offset the revenue loss, council authorized transferring $10,000 from the general fund to the pool fund.

“When the weather was good, we had good crowds,” said Parks and Recreation Director John Mitchell. “Nineteen days of rain hurt us.”

“It was either close the pool or subsidize it,” said Garver, acknowledging that the pool has had to rely on such transfers in recent years.

Rain has also put a couple of con-struction projects behind schedule. Mitch-ell said work in the Westwood subdivision is nearing an end, while the wet weather has put work on the wastewater treatment plant back by a couple of weeks.

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