Wednesday, March 06, 2013
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Parking ordinance fails to pass

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[March 06, 2013]  Monday evening, after several months of debate and "tweaking" on the part of Alderman David Wilmert, his proposed parking ordinance came to a vote of the full city council and failed to pass.

Wilmert made the motion and the second came from Stacy Bacon, who has been a supporter of the ordinance since the beginning.

Immediately afterward, Tom O'Donohue said he wanted to clarify for the record, that while the council members do the work on a new ordinance, and to that extent are the authors of it, the city attorney prepares the legal document that is eventually voted on. He said he wanted to make this clear because constituents have asked about it in the past.

When the floor was opened for discussion on the ordinance, Melody Anderson was the first one to say that she would be voting no. Anderson said she didn't necessarily disagree with the ordinance before them, but she was uncomfortable with passing it without a street parking ordinance to go with it. She also noted that she had concerns about passing something that both the city attorney and the zoning and safety office were not happy with.

Marty Neitzel told the council she would be voting no as well. Her concerns were that the original intent of the council was to curtail parking of trailers, but what was happening in this ordinance was actually giving trailer owners more options of places to park.

Jeff Hoinacki offered a different opinion. He told the council he would vote yes. He said the new ordinance would give trailer owners an alternative to parking their vehicles on the street, and it was the street-side parking that was the real problem.

O'Donohue said he would have a difficult time voting in favor of the ordinance, especially seeing as how city attorney Blinn Bates and safety officer John Lebegue were opposed to it.

He continued: "I say this a lot: 'What do we want Lincoln to be?' I don't think this is what I want Lincoln to be. I don't think this is what the citizens want Lincoln to be."

Jonie Tibbs also said she would vote no. She told the council she felt this ordinance would open the door for more abuse. She said that she, for one, didn't want trailers parked in the driveway next door to her home.

David Armbrust defended the ordinance, saying maybe it wasn't perfect, but he reminded everyone there was a sunset clause, so if it didn't work, the ordinance could be reversed.

Wilmert addressed some of the objections, saying first that the original intent was not to curtail, as Neitzel had mentioned. He reminded the group that it was Darren Coffey who came to the council asking them to relax the 72-hour law for street-side parking.

Wilmert also talked about the pairing of two ordinances. He said that at first the ordinance was to be done in two parts, but there had been a consensus of the council to get the driveway parking ordinance passed before they "tightened the screws" on the street-side parking problem.

Wilmert said he had addressed every concern of the council during the writing of the ordinance, and it was reflected in the final product.

O'Donohue agreed that the council had gone along with doing two ordinances, but he had always believed it was their intent to pass them at the same time.

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Kathy Horn spoke up, saying first that she appreciated Wilmert's work on the ordinance and that it had ended up being quite a can of worms. She then asked if perhaps the ordinance on the floor now should be tabled until the ordinance on street-side parking is written and ready to be voted upon.

Sue McLaughlin, city administrator, liked the idea of tabling the motion. She told the council that in looking at the ordinance, there were a lot of ways to tweak it and make it better.

Mayor Keith Snyder asked if Lebegue or Bates had any comments.

Lebegue said he thought he had made himself clear on the issue in the past. He said this ordinance will create more visual clutter in the neighborhoods, and most progressive communities wouldn't allow something like this. He added that front yards are the most visible part of the property. He reminded the council that they need to ask themselves what they really want the impact to be.

Lebegue brought up attracting new business, saying street appeal is very important. "When businesses are looking to move to a community, they drive through and see what it looks like. And this would have a negative impact," he said. He also added that he felt there were indeed those who would pave their entire front yard and fill it with trailers.

Bates spoke quite clearly on the matter, saying, "This is a bad idea, folks." He continued by saying that the safety office and the law office have worked diligently to try to clean up the town, and this was a step backward.

Wilmert again offered some clarification, saying it was never intended that people would be permitted to pave or gravel their entire yard. He said in the unlikely event that it would happen, it could be addressed in some other way.

Holding his ground, Wilmert said he didn't want to table the motion; he wanted to see this ordinance go forward. "At some point you have to let this go through and be finished," he said.

When the vote was called for, Armbrust, Bacon, Hoinacki and Wilmert voted in favor of passing; Anderson, Bruce Carmitchel, Horn, Neitzel, O'Donohue and Tibbs all voted against; and the motion failed.

No further discussion took place regarding this on Monday night. It is not known at this time what the next step may be.


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