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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Judiciary Recommends City Parking Ordinance Changes

Issue Date: March 16, 2018

At their meeting on Friday, March 9, Judiciary Committee members Mary Lock and Brigitte Schmidt agreed to recommend that the Peshtigo City Council adopt an ordinance change to limit parking to ordinance changes as recommended by the Streets and Drainage Committee at its January meeting.

Among them is new wording for the ordinance governing parking at the Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center to improve safety for students and make existing parking restrictions enforceable.

They also approved painting a designated crosswalk on Ogden Road so employees of Aacer Flooring can more safely cross to work from the parking lot on the south side of the street; have another stop sign placed at the intersection of Eklund and Harper, which will make it a four-way stop

In accord with another request from the Streets and Drainage committee, they agreed to limit six parking spots on Ellis Avenue from French Street to Oconto Ave. to 2-hour parking from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and to add a 15-minute parking limit on Pine Street in front of the Daycare Center. Public Works Director George Cowell said students often park their cars there all day, which has caused complaints from business owners who are left with no convenient places for customers to park.

The committee considered and rejected a request to allow volunteer workers as well as city employees operate the 'gator machine during certain ball field activities.

They also discussed how to regulate drone use in the city so that privacy of neighbors is not infringed, but agreed to take no action until they get further information on how it is handled in other cities.

Review of several ordinances regulating building heights, accessory buildings, setbacks and accessory buildings has been requested by Building Inspector Tom Smith but that discussion was taken off the agenda before the meeting started.

The meeting began with regulation of parking at the school. Schmidt, who also serves on the Streets and Drainage Committee, explained that the existing parking signs put up by the school district, including those prohibiting parking on the east side of Emery Ave., were agreed upon between the school superintendent and the past police chief but were never brought to City Council to become part of the ordinance.

Some parents have been regularly ignoring the signs prohibiting parking on the east side of Emery Ave. Police Chief Joe FitzGerald said because they do not match the ordinance, his officers cannot issue tickets, which means the parking restrictions are somewhat unenforceable.

Schmidt said Elementary Principal Kelley Collins had told her parents drop their kids off on the east side of Emery Ave. in the morning and park there to pick them up at the end of the school day to avoid waiting in line for the official pick up and drop off procedure in front of the school on the other side of the street. This means kids run out from between parked cars and cross traffic on Emery Ave. and in the school driveway, where parents are also dropping kids off or picking them up.

Sievert said during a conversation at school Collins had asked her what she could do to help improve safety there. That request was discussed at the January meeting of the Streets and Drainage Committee, with School Facilities Director Brian Williams on hand to convey Collins's concerns and explain what the school would like the rules to be.

Discussion by both committees was that the requested changes simply make the ordinance match what the currently posted parking rules state, and by doing so, makes them enforceable. Objective, Schmidt said, ""is to keep kids from crossing between parked cars, improve visibility and keep everybody safe."

FitzGerald was not able to attend the Judiciary Committee meeting, but Public Works Director George Cowell explained on his behalf that the signs must match the ordinance or they cannot be enforced. He said the ordinance number need not be on the sign to make it enforceable, and felt a few warnings issued to parents who have been ignoring the signs might do the trick, and if not a ticket or two would.

Lock moved to recommend that council ask City Attorney Dave Spangenberg to draft an ordinance to state parking will be "restricted include bus loading and unloading and a drop off area and placement of signs on the east side of Emery Ave. from N. W. Front Street to East Park Drive stating "no stopping, no standing, no parking, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.," s requested by the Streets and Drainage committee. Schmidt voted in favor and the motion passed without dissent. Alderman Deborah Sievert, who also serves on both committees, was absent and excused due to the death of a close family friend. She had voted in favor of the ordinance change at the Streets and Drainage Committee meeting.

When it came time to discuss the proposed review of the drone ordinance, identified as "Operation of certain devices prohibited," Schmidt asked who had asked to have it on the agenda. She said this had been discussed previously at Judiciary Committee meetings. She noted drone use is already covered by Federal laws, and an existing ordinance prohibits drone use in the city.

Clerk/Treasurer Vicki Koronkiewicz said a person who wants to use a drone from his yard in the city had requested it, but was not at the meeting.

Current ordinance states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to fly, operate or make use of any remote or radio-controlled model airplane, helicopter, vehicle or any other such device in, over or upon any street, park or other public or private property except in areas specifically designated and posted for such purpose and with the consent of the property owner or lessee of the property."

"If we do anything (to allow it) it's got to be strict, because nobody wants a drone flying over their back yard," commented Lock. The person who made the request was invited but was not present, so no action was taken.

Included for discussion at the request of Mayor Cathi Malke was a request to authorize volunteer workers who are not city employees to operate 'Gators or other 4-wheelers between ball fields on baseball or softball tournament weekends. Current ordinance authorizes only city employees in city-owned vehicles to do so.

Koronkiewicz explained a city employee can operate a 'Gator on city streets to move supplies between fields, and the mayor would like this to apply also to persons who volunteer to work for Youth Baseball on tournament weekends.

There were concerns that city insurance would not cover a non-employee. Schmidt felt the request should be referred to the Parks and Recreation Committee, and did not feel they have enough information. She said any Parks employee can operate the vehicle now on the street, "and I still like that idea." She also felt there should be a city employee on duty whenever a tournament is in progress in any case. Lock said that proposal had been discussed at several meetings in the past, and a private disabled person asked for the right to operate their vehicle on the street and was refused. She recommended they not allow it, and suggested if someone still wants it they should put the request in writing. Schmidt agreed, so no action was taken.

Next was a proposal to prohibit overnight parking in any municipal parking lot. This had apparently become an issue because a vehicle with a trailer that had advertising on it was regularly parked in the downtown triangle lot by the stop lights across from City Hall.

Koronkiewicz explained right now overnight parking is allowed in any of the city lots, but overnight parking on the streets is prohibited. If the overnight ban had been enacted as written there would have been no overnight parking allowed in any city lot.

Cowell said several buildings downtown do not have adequate parking areas in winter, when on-street overnight parking is prohibited. He has given permission for several vehicles with owners living in nearby apartments to park right now in the area adjoining the Municipal Building where the old Hammes Building was recently torn down.

He said these are existing buildings, constructed before recent laws came into play, particularly zoning laws that require specific numbers of parking spaces for each apartment or specific businesses.

"These are old buildings in an old downtown, and I feel they are grandfathered," Cowell commented.

Schmidt suggested meeting with the building inspector to find out just what the ordinance says about requirements for apartments in older buildings, "I don't want to start something and not do it right."

Lock said she questioned the owner of one of the older buildings recently converted to apartments and was assured they have adequate space in the alley behind the building.

"The trailer with the sign was the problem, that the Mayor didn't like," Schmidt commented, "but if we enact an ordinance it would need to apply to everybody."

Cowell suggested it is a zoning issue. "A lot of cities with an older downtown commercial district have separate zoning rules for those areas to keep their buildings viable." He said some have an overnight parking permit system for those areas.

Schmidt gelt they did not have enough information to make a good decision. Koronkiewicz suggested referring it to the Plan Commission, but agreed with Cowell,"We are an older downtown."

Schmidt and Lock agreed they prefer the ordinance as is, but asked Koronkiewicz to put it on the Plan Commission agenda.

Cowell repeated his concerns about keeping older downtown buildings viable. He said it works well. The parking areas used by apartment residents are generally vacant during the day, when the parking spots are needed by the businesses, and then at night, when not needed for commercial parking, they are used by residents.

"I don't want apartment residents to park on the streets all day and hurt the businesses when there are parking lots available," Lock declared.

After considerable discussion Lock and Schmidt agreed with amending the stop sign ordinance to put up a fourth stop sign for westbound traffic on Eklund Ave. at the intersection with Harper Ave. Currently it is a 3-way stop. The road comes in from the Town of Peshtigo and the Town is agreeable, Cowell said. He added that numerous people in the audience at a recent Town of Peshtigo meeting had requested this. They felt right now it is a dangerous intersection.

The ordinance needs to be changed before new signs are posted, Cowell said, first, so the public can see them on-line, second, so he knows where to put the signs, and third, so the police can enforce it.


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