Council takes more input on school zone trailers

The Lovell Town Council met Thursday for a brief special meeting, then covered a number of other items in a work meeting, including taking comment on the proposed ordinance banning trailers on streets in school zones.

The council first held a brief hearing on a proposal to sell a 2007 Dodge Charger police vehicle to the Town of Manderson for $5,000. There was no public comment and the council voted to approve the sale.

With the car sale item of business covered, the council adjourned the special meeting and opened a work meeting to discuss the proposal to ban trailers in or near school zones. After opposition erupted at the regular August 14 council meeting, the council tabled the ordinance on first reading and asked for public input at the Aug. 30 work meeting.

The Elwood Ennis family made the point at last Thursday’s council meeting that their camper trailer, pictured here, does not pose a threat to schoolchildren since Kansas Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic before and after school.
David Peck photo

The mayor and council had the ordinance drafted following a request from Lovell Supt. of Schools Rick Woodford, who said at the July 10 council meeting that he was concerned about the safety of children walking to and from school who may have to “navigate around” large trailers parked in the street, especially near crosswalks and intersections.

 Ordinance 966-2018 would prohibit the parking of commercial or livestock trailers and recreational vehicles in marked school zones or within 40 feet of intersections on streets that intersect school zones.

Sydney Beal and Robert Henley weighed in on the issue Thursday by saying that, if the town was planning to prohibit trailers in a school zone, it would only be fair to apply the ordinance to the entire community, not just those who happen to live in a school zone.

“I’d like to see it all over town,” Beal said, though she said provisions should be made for trailers parked for construction purposes.

“We’re never going to cite you for a construction trailer,” town administrator Jed Nebel answered.

It was pointed out that the Town of Powell has an ordinance prohibiting trailers to be parked on the curb during certain times of the year, but that ordinance was passed for aesthetic reasons, not due to safety concerns.

Councilwoman Carol Miller said she agreed with “some kind of time limit” of that type.

Elwood Ennis said his family has been dealing with restrictions on Kansas for years because they live directly across the street from the elementary school and are subject to no-driving zone cones twice a day.

“With the cones for 45 minutes (twice a day) we’re kind of blocked,” he said. “At first they said we couldn’t even move our car. They’ve eliminated any parking on the school side (of the house), but then teachers park in front of our house. There seem to be more and more limitations on what we can do.”

The real issue, wife Teressa Ennis said, is that banning trailers in the Kansas Ave. school zone doesn’t make sense because there’s no traffic between the cones when children are arriving and departing from school.

Beal noted that, in her opinion, there’s no reason for the cones in the first place once the bus drop-off and pickup lane returns to the front side of the school because there’s very little traffic on Kansas.

“It’s stupid,” she said. “They have a four-way stop and a crossing guard.”

Nebel asked if anyone was in favor of some kind of seasonal limitations like Powell has, with trailers prohibited in the street for most of the year but allowed for limited periods of time during the summer for loading and cleaning purposes.

The Ennises said they would be OK with having no trailers for much of the year but they prefer no restrictions from June through September.

Henley said the real solution is enforcing the speed limit in school zones, pointing out that the stopping distance is much shorter for a vehicle going 20 miles per hour than traveling 30 mph.

“I want trailers in the street,” he said.

“What about long term?” Miller asked. “I know of a trailer that has been parked for six years.”

Henley said he would be OK with a time limit on parking.

But he said the real issue is one of fairness.

“I’m in the school zone, and I don’t want to lose a privilege when the rest of the town is unaffected,” he said. “I believe enforcing the school zone speed limit would take care of the problem.”

Councilman Bruce Wolsey said he appreciated all of the comments and that nothing could be done that night because it was a work meeting.

“We’ll draft an ordinance and go from there,” he said. “I see pros and cons with everything that’s been said.”

Councilman Kevin Jones reminded the audience that any ordinance drafted must be considered on three readings, so the public will have more chances to weigh in on the issue.

Other topics on the agenda for the work meeting were the town personnel policy manual, a Lovell Inc. property swap proposal for the greenhouse project and proposals for the planning and zoning code.

By David Peck