Council discusses noise ordinance as
citizens complain about 'jake braking'
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:01 AM
Chatfield Chief of Police Shane Fox addressed an increase of citizen complaints about vehicles engine (jake) braking while heading through Chatfield. At the Monday, Aug. 12, city council meeting, Fox explained there is usually a normal increase during the summer months, but noted that there seemed to be an unusual increase this summer.
Fox reported the most common area for trucks to engine brake was coming in south of town on Highway 52. He guessed the drivers would come into town too fast and choose to engine brake all through town. According to Fox, the trucks have made a lot of noise during "ungodly" hours like 4 o'clock in the morning.
Upon checking with the state, Fox found the city would be able to have the Department of Transportation put up vehicle noise laws signs. However, the city would need to pass a resolution stating they would enforce the noise ordinance.
"There really isn't any law that says you can't jake brake," shared Fox, "but the statute on mufflers would cover it. You should just hear a vehicle drive past you, not the engine."
He mentioned trucks with mufflers probably wouldn't have an issue. Fox mainly implicated those with straight pipes which cause the truck to "sound like a bad Harley" as the ones the city takes issue with.
Mayor Russell Smith asked the council if it was an issue that should go to committee.
City attorney Frederick Suhler said he had researched the issue and found that if trucking companies have proper mufflers, there shouldn't be problems. "You are taking a position publicly that you want to enforce those laws," explained Suhler.
Smith clarified the first signs put up would be at the city's expense.
Clerk Joel Young asked how many signs the city would like as he had put together an application for them.
Councilman Paul Novotny said he was all for having the noise taken care of, but that the issue should go to committee. "We're doing it for a specific reason to take a care of a specific problem, but what if someone has a problem with a Harley?" he asked, suggesting that the city would need to be clear on what they would consider a violation. "It could be more than just a few trucks," Novotny added.
Smith said the resolution would be all-inclusive.
Novotny said the city could still write a ticket since they had a noise ordinance, even without the signs.
Fox agreed, but asked, "Will the sign take care of our need to write the ticket?"
Novotny continued to state that the issue needed to go to committee. Smith said he agreed because the city needed to decide which roads would get the signs.
Councilman Robert Pederson said the issue has been addressed in other cities in the state as well. He asked if the police would warn the drivers or ticket them.
Fox said the department had stopped some trucks in the early morning following several complaints. He said he didn't understand how trucks could be coming into town fast since the terrain is flat.
Novotny said it was a shame the city might spend thousands of dollars for signs.
Smith received consensus from the council to send the issue to the public services committee for further review. "This isn't something new. We'll see if we can slow some of it down."
Young mentioned that enforcements would still continue.
In the public works committee update, Novotny said the preliminary budget was discussed. A state levy limit had been placed on the budget, which had pushed the ready date back a few weeks.
Pederson gave the public works update, in which he shared that the city is still looking into which engineering firm they should contract with. The current firm is McGhie & Betts.
Pederson said the committee had also considered a switch to LED lighting for the streets. The light is brighter, saves energy costs and is easy to retrofit, shared Pederson.
Waste Water Treatement Plant Superintendant Daryl Haner had talked about issues with sewer lines. Pederson said there are always ongoing issues and that they are being addressed. Smith said that "Chatfield is getting older" and that projects will be coming up in the coming years that will fix the aging infrastructure.
Main street trees and tree grates will be put in the fall. The park sidewalk will be addressed now that Western Days is over. Pederson mentioned that there will be some changes in snow removal for the coming winter.
In other business, the city council discussed the following issues.
Following a July public services committee review, it was recommended that the current administration vehicle be replaced. The current vehicle, a 2005 Ford Expedition with 65,000 miles, has been scheduled for replacement since 2011. Fox received council approval to purchase a Ford Utility Interceptor from Winona for $28,240.
The council approved the sale of a portion of Outlot B to Gerald and Maureen Barry. Young said the sale would conclude several years of negotiations.
The council also approved a resolution amending the boundaries of TIF District 2-4, which contained the Crystal Ballroom at the since removed Val-a Lodge. Young said they needed to legally amend the district to remove it from the TIF District even though the District 2-4 would remain.
The council members shared their thoughts on Western Days, saying they enjoyed being in the parade and talking with people along the route.