By Rosemary K. Otzman
Enforcement on the new parking ordinance for Harbour Pointe subdivision begins on Sunday, Feb. 1. This follows a 90-day period the city gave to residents to get used to the new procedure before starting to write tickets or tow vehicles.
The ordinance calls for parking on only one side of the streets in the subdivision to allow clearance for emergency vehicles.
In a last-ditch effort, ordinance opponent Jeff Harris attended the Jan. 20 Belleville City Council meeting with a written proposal, which he handed to the council.
His proposal apparently called for doubled-sided parking in the front of the subdivision, where he lives, with single-sided parking beyond that.
Harris and his daughters have been the only residents of Harbour Pointe to attend council meetings to protest the new parking rules. They presented a lengthy report on parking in other communities to the council at one point. The main objection seemed to be that wider thoroughfares encouraged speeding.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said the city fire chief was not present at that night’s meeting, but she had no reason to believe he would change his mind on the new regulations that he requested.
Keith Tackett, DPW Director, said the very day after the last council meeting that Harris attended, the city had a slowdown of an emergency vehicle at the site that Harris wants to be two-sided parking. He said he didn’t think the fire chief would be interested in having two-sided parking there.
“Enforcement begins Feb. 1,” said Mayor Conley. “We meet on Feb. 2,” referring to the next council meeting.
“The original purpose of the proposal is access to the site,” Councilman Tom Fielder said of the new regulation. “The administration has never brought up ‘speed’ … It was never brought up by police that there has been excessive speed there.” He said he stays with his vote to approve the new regulation.
Planning commission member Mike Renaud, who also lives in Harbour Pointe, said to Police Chief Hal Berriman that when he starts enforcement he might look at those who block the sidewalks because there are two or three who regularly do that.
“Is the fire chief calling the shots?” asked Harris. “Did you even read the document I brought?” he challenged the mayor.
Mayor Conley was absent the night he and his daughters presented the lengthy study they prepared with information from the internet. At the next meeting, she said she hadn’t read it yet.
But, at the Jan. 20 meeting, she told Harris: “I did. I actually did [read it].” She said the communities reported on in their study were very different than the city of Belleville.
Mayor Conley told Harris the city has installed signs and given the residents 90 days to get used to the idea.
“You have come to many meetings to get us to change our decision,” Mayor Conley said. “My opinion hasn’t changed.”
Later in the meeting, after Harris had left, Mayor Conley, who also lives in Harbour Pointe, said she drives an SUV, not an ambulance or a fire truck, and, “It is tight … and sometimes I have trouble getting through.”
DPW Director Tackett said the non-enforced compliance since the signs went up has been “shocking,” indicating he was pleasantly surprised that most of the people are already following the new rule.
When asked about the signs, Tackett said at the beginning when the signs were installed, one sign turned up missing and then it showed up.
In other business at the Jan. 20 meeting, the council:
• Opened one sealed bid submitted for Community Development Block Grant Engineering and Program Management Services from Hennessey Engineering and then accepted the bid unanimously, with the stipulation that this would be after review of the bid by the administration. The work is on the Village Park playscape and the CDBG funds for that must be expended by the end of August. The expenses for the ADA playscape are reimbursable through the CDBG fund;
• Approved street closings necessary for the Kona Strawberry Run at 7 p.m. on June 19, the Friday of Strawberry Festival. The run will start at Horizon Park and go along Main Street parking lane to Denton Road Bridge and then up and around the lakeshore and back. Kona president Alan Whitehead and Larry O’Sullivan were present to explain the race;
• Approved Sept. 12 and 13 as the days for the citywide yard sales, where residents can have sales without permits;
• Approved accounts payable of $96,628.71 and departmental purchases in excess of $500: Allie Brothers, $531.92, for police uniforms; Miss Dig, $848.94 for annual membership; Morton Salt, $6,483.47 for bulk salt; and Stoney Creek, $511.85 for maintenance;
• Heard Mayor Conley report on the recent Council of Western Wayne meeting, noting the ballot proposal for a 1% sales tax increase for roads needs the education of voters. She also said they were told Comcast is merging with Time Warner and will have a new name for the cable. She said the email is being phased out and people will get notice in the mail. Also, she said, the Belleville and Romulus Mayors’ Ball in Romulus will be held Feb. 14 to raise funds for a charity. Last year it sold out;
• Was reminded the sealed bids for Planning and Zoning services will be opened at the next meeting, Feb. 2;
• Heard Mayor Conley say there will be an action item on the Feb. 2 agenda on the South Huron Valley Utility Authority Consolidated Service Agreement. She said it took 4.5 years to negotiate a contract with Wayne County and they finally came up with a compromise. Thirteen communities all have to approve and in December the county approved. Township attorney Steve Hitchcock will come to the Feb. 2 meeting and provide comments since there is a lot to be considered. (Van Buren Township approved the agreement without comment on its consent agenda Jan. 13.); and
• Went into closed-door session to discuss pending union negotiations and then came back into public session only to adjourn.
By Rosemary K. Otzman