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Council concerned about street, sidewalk obstructions

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

SPICELAND — Town officials are considering a local ordinance designed to improve public safety and the flow of traffic.

The Spiceland Town Council met Wednesday and voted unanimously in support of Ordinance 2018-2, which prohibits an individual or business from parking or placing a dumpster, roll-off container, storage container or shipping container on any public street, alley, sidewalk or town right-of-way.

The measure also makes it illegal to park or place a non-motorized vehicle which isn’t self-propelled or attached to its source of power on any public street, alley or town right-of-way for more than 24 hours. This includes semi-trailers, flatbed trailers, car haulers, boat trailers, campers, utility trailers, wagons, etc. designed to be hauled or pulled.

Town attorney Tracy Newhouse said this type of ordinance is common in many communities, and council member Marita Roberson noted she has already heard from local residents about the practice.

“We’ve had complaints about people not being able to get to the sidewalk,” she said.

Roberson also wanted to make sure the council has the authority to approve exceptions to this rule, and cited Freedom Days as an example of when a dumpster or trailer might be left on public property for more than 24 hours.

Council president Darrin Jacobs suggested taking a similar approach to exceptions that the City of New Castle does.

“They have a process where their building inspector will come out and take a look, and if there’s no place to put it on the property but there is a safe place that maybe it could go on they waive the [ordinance] requirements,” Jacobs said.

Roberson agreed the idea isn’t to make anyone’s life miserable or to create hardships; rather, it’s to improve public safety and prevent people from placing obstructions in areas where vehicles and pedestrians frequently travel.

The proposed ordinance has provisions for enforcing the measure including fining a first-time violator up to $100, a $175 fine for a second violation, and a $250 fine for a third violation. It also calls for a minimum fine of $25 plus court costs for anyone found guilty of a violation.

The ordinance also allows the town or its agent to tow or remove the offending obstruction to an area designated by the town and bill the owner for removing and storing it.

This matter was passed on first reading. It will be advertised as required by state law and revisited at a future council meeting.

The town council meets at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at 130 E. Main Street. The meetings are open to all interested persons.