City council meets

After a third round of discussions, proposed restrictions for parking tractor-trailer trucks within the city limits were postponed during the City of Milton Common Council meeting held Sept. 17. Revisions are expected to return for a third reading during the council’s next meeting scheduled for Oct. 1.

Council members discussed removing proposed revisions made Sept. 3 that would have allowed truck drivers to park cabs only in their driveways, as well as allowing cabs street parking alternatives for up to 48 hours within a seven-day period in front of the semi owner or operator’s home.

Citing approval of a first reading on Aug. 20 with provisions disallowing semis to park on city streets, Ben Strand, a resident of Rogers Street, said: “The first ordinance got it right.” He described displeasure with noise and odors emitted from a semi, which, he said, was being parked near his home at the corner of Rogers and Davis streets.

He said RVs and boats did not create the same kinds of disruptions. Addressing potential semi parking alternatives, he said: “If you put it on the edge of town, I’d be for that.”

Strand alleged “an indentation” in the pavement had been made by the semi’s weight.

City Attorney Mark Schroeder said a weight limit of 12,000 pounds was in place for city roads, and tractor-trailers were limited to using streets defined as truck routes unless they were making deliveries.

City Administrator Al Hulick said a majority of municipalities restrict semi traffic to truck routes, and the ordinance currently in place allows an exception for cabs only to park in front of an owner or operator’s home.

Council members discussed weights associated with semis, with several advancing weights between 16,000 and 60,000 pounds, depending upon whether a cab or the full tractor-trailer was being considered.

Council member Theresa Rusch said that while she empathized with semi owners and the difficulties they faced looking for parking alternatives, she also empathized with homeowners who faced noise and odor levels produced by the vehicles.

She said she was recently asked if she would like a semi parked in front of her home. Her response, she said, was: “no, I would not.”

While the city is responsible for creating an ordinance, she did not believe it was the city’s responsibility to find alternative parking, she said.

“If you are in that business, it is up to you to find alternative parking. We can make a suggestion, like Commerce Way, but you have to investigate it,” she said.

Mayor Anissa Welch said truck drivers parking on Commerce Way might walk or bicycle ride home.

“I am open to more than Commerce Way, but Commerce seems to be a solution that we have available at this point. Maybe we should look for something on either side of town,” said council member Bill Wilson.

He cited Commerce Way as a “short-term solution,” advocating that the city should take no action on the ordinance and seek other long-term parking solutions.

Hulick suggested council consider returning to the original language of the proposed ordinance as presented Aug. 20. He said a revision could be created, designating Commerce Way as an alternative for semi parking.

Schroeder suggested updating the city’s list of truck routes, although he said he thought many would not provide good alternatives for parking because they are located in the downtown area. He suggested council consider conditions of safety, aesthetics and noise.

Schroeder was asked to update the list of designated truck routes within the city for review during the next meeting.

Background and timeline

During discussion, Hulick presented a timeline, developed, he said, to provide an understanding of why language in the city’s ordinance governing semi parking was being reviewed, and what alternatives had been previously discussed.

According to Hulick, the city began reviewing language regarding parking for semis after receiving complaints from residents. Most recently, he said, the city had received a complaint regarding a semi parked along Davis Street.

Language amending the city ordinance was brought before council on Aug. 20, and proposed two changes: removing the word, “trucks,” which was not a defined legal term within state statutes, and replacing it with the more specific terms of “truck tractors” and “tractor semitrailer combinations.”

A second amendment proposed repealing language within the ordinance allowing owners and operators to park semis in front of their homes.

A first reading, with the proposed changes, was approved and staff was directed to explore parking alternatives for semi cabs without trailers that might be developed within the city, and which could be discussed before the approval of a second reading.

According to Hulick, on Sept. 3, the ordinance returned for a second reading and some parking alternatives were offered for discussion. They included amending language within the ordinance to allow parking of the cab only in a homeowner’s driveway, and allowing overnight parking for semis in the Crossroads Business Park along Commerce Way.

During discussion, Hulick noted the temporary nature of the Commerce Way alternative, citing changes that might come with continued development within the area.

On Sept. 3, a second reading of the ordinance was approved, with reinstatement of language allowing semi owners and operators to park a cab only in front of their homes for no more than 48 hours over a seven-day period. Cabs would be regulated in the same manner as recreational vehicles, the proposal stipulated.

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