Monday, January 21, 2002

Cities taking stronger stance on truck parking

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — In the aftermath of the death of a teen-ager who drove into an illegally parked semitrailer, Fairfield has toughened parking penalties for the big vehicles.

        And in Middletown, city commissioners are considering a complete ban on truck parking.

        Fairfield City Council unanimously agreed last week to stiffer fines for illegally parked large vehicles on residential streets. The fine rose from $7 to $100. Those who violate the law within one year's time will be cited again and their vehicle will be impounded.

        Vehicles weighing more than three-quarters of a ton are only permitted on residential streets between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.

        Middletown City Council members are expected to vote on the issue Feb. 5 after residents recently submitted 50 petitions requesting the ban. Petition leaders say the trucks are dangerous, a blight on their neighborhoods, and are cracking cement on roads, curbs and sidewalks.

        The petitions began circulating about a year ago, said Diane Staull, who led the effort out of frustration over trucks cracking the pavement on her street.

        “There is no reason why they can't store their trucks at garages or storage facilities,” Ms. Staull, 54, said. “They are tearing up our streets. We have broken-down streets, curbs and sidewalks and we'll have to pay to fix those. That's not fair.”

        Violators would receive $100 tickets on the first offense within a year — a second violation in the same year would merit up to a $1,000 fine and impoundment.

        At last week's Middletown City Council meeting, five truck drivers objected to the proposed ban.

        One, Doug Dietz, who owns Dietz Towing, wants the city to make exceptions for tow trucks.

        “We're on eight different police rotations and have to keep our wreckers at home because we only have 15 or 20 minutes to respond to an accident scene,” he said. “There's no way we could go across town to a storage facility, pick a truck up and go. That isn't feasible.”

        The City of Hamilton already forbids large vehicles on residential streets. Liberty and West Chester townships do not.

        In Liberty Township, which is becoming a residential area, there have been recent complaints about the issue, so it may come up soon before the trustees, Administrator Nell Kilpatrick said.

        In Fairfield, Shirley Holman lives in an apartment building on Southgate Boulevard, where Jacob Stoehr, 19, died Nov. 3, 2001, after slamming his 1987 Toyota Corolla into the back of an illegally parked 1998 Freightliner semitrailer. Mr. Stoehr was driving 55 mph hour in a 25-mph zone when he hit the semitrailer, police records show.

        But before the accident, she tried to warn city officials that the large trucks parked on her street were dangerous.

        “You couldn't see to get in and out of the driveways,” Ms. Holman, 66, said. “All the buildings here are just loaded with children. I was just afraid one of them would run out, not look, or not be able to see and get hurt.”

        Less than a week after a phone call to the police department proved futile, she said, the accident happened. That's when she showed up at City Hall and begged for help.

        “I was trying to do something, but I couldn't save a life,” she said. “Everybody was standing out there on the street after the accident saying somebody ought to do something, but nobody wanted to do it. So I just took it upon myself, and now I'm happy. By passing that, they're saving a lot of lives.”


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