The Free Press
Vehicles will no longer be allowed to park in front yards unless it?s an improved parking space, according to a unanimous vote Jan. 27 by the Marion City Council.
According to the new or?di?nance, an improved parking space is an area with a non-vegetation, non-grass hard surface to include brick, gravel, rock, asphalt concrete or other equivalent material.
?The only exceptions would be temporarily loading or unloading property or passengers, a licensed contractor working on property or emergency vehicles,? said Roger Holter, city administrator
The ordinance further stated that violators will be fined for first, second and third offenses within 12 months of the first offense.
If someone is found guilty or pleads no contest, the penalty for first-time offenders is $100; second offense, $200, and third offense, $300, and up to three days in Marion County jail, Holter said.
Prior to the vote, Holter showed the council members a series of slides citing examples of residents illegally parked.
In one situation, he said, a roll back curb (?s? shaped) and compacted driveway make driving over it acceptable, and is encouraged.
?Unfortunately, this driveway now has a vehicle with all the wheels off and is on blocks,? Holter said.
Another example involved a location with a low back curb, which he said is acceptable to drive over, but the residence needs a solid compacted material behind it to keep it from rolling inward.
?What this is causing is the build?up of soil and gravel that impacts drainage in the neighborhood so the storm water system isn?t working properly,? Holter said.
?This is not something the street sweeper can take care of. We need to send out crews to remove the material.?
Mayor Todd Heitschmidt questioned if this is the city?s responsibility or the landowner?s.
?By previous code,? Hol?ter said, ?the landowner is responsible for the back of curb to the sidewalk.?
Councilor Melissa Mermis said this is something she believes the city should look into.
?Street sweepers get frustrated and then we have to use other resources to clean that up,? she said. ?Couldn?t we get compensation for the extra cost??
Heitschmidt said in general the issue may improper installation or too much gravel that is then forced off by rain or vehicle usage.
?Maybe it?s off in the photo (presented by Holter), but that is a good slop with water washing rock down into the street,? Heitschmidt added.
After discussing other examples and drainage issues, the council will review all the current ordinances regarding debris in the streets and how it?s deposited there.
Holter said: ?I know we have one (ordinance) from the 1930s that says you can?t build a fire in the street.?
In other business, the council:
? approved the annual financial publication presented by City Clerk Tiffany Jeffrey,
? received an accommodation letter from Randy Frank, Marion County Emergency director, for the quick and decisive actions associated with the fire at the Marion Coop grain elevator Jan. 7.
In the letter, Frank stated the fire could have easily turned into an explosion causing injury or death if not for the quick thinking of the first responders.
?First responders,? he stated, ?are not looking for ?hero? status, but would like community support. They miss a lot of family time and respond at all hours to help those in an emergency.?
? approved a land use agreement with the Marion VFW, north of its post at 420 W. Santa Fe.
? went into a 20-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. After returning to open session, no action was taken.