After months of discussion and fine-tuning, the Bement village board voted against a proposed ordinance regarding boulevard parking.
A handful of residents spoke during public comment at the meeting April 9, all asking that the ordinance – as presently written – not be approved.
“I am a businessman in town, just like anyone else in business. My business is my (semi-truck),” Curt Durbin said. “I spend a lot of money in this town. I have rock in front of my house to park my truck on. I’ve talked to every neighbor and it’s not bothering them. It doesn’t look bad.
“There’s a lot more things in this town that need to be talked about, as far as drugs and (rundown) houses around here than they do worrying about somebody getting back and forth to work.”
Others who participated in public comment targeted the height limit of vehicles allowed in the potential boulevard ordinance.
“I don’t know why everybody keeps barking up this tree that we don’t want trucks in town,” Roger Arney told the board. “I’m parking down here so I can go to work the next morning. Otherwise, I have to drive seven miles up to Monticello, park my truck and drive seven miles back home. Next morning, have to drive another seven miles and seven miles back. Every day. That’s an expense into my account.
“I hope we can come to some kind of conclusion. I can understand where the city is coming from, but you have to understand where we’re coming from because we are taxpayers.”
Resident Casey Brittenham said if the ordinance passed it should be enforced fairly and not used by neighbors to resolve personal vendettas.
“It’ll be like all the other ordinances the town has. It’ll be enforced only when it’s convenient because somebody complains,” Brittenham said. “If it’s going to be a law, it needs to be passed and not single anybody out. Because otherwise it’s going to single Curt out, it’s going to single me out.”
After hearing from speakers during public comment, the board turned to further discussion of the ordinance. Some board members wished to continue tweaking the ordinance and bring a final version to a vote at a later date. Others wanted to scrap the ordinance altogether.
“In the zoning ordinance as is right now, which was established in 1984, it’s talking about off-street parking,” board member Mark Henderson said. “The only thing that is mentioned in there is ‘automobile.’ It doesn’t say ‘boat,’ it doesn’t say ‘camper, airplane or tank,’ it doesn’t say ‘semis,’ it says ‘automobile.’ ... That’s already there in places.
“I don’t know how far you want to push that, but there’s already something in place. It’s a little bit vague, but it’s there.”
Village police officer Dave Lansford said that right now he enforces general boulevard parking rules if he receives a complaint, but “if you want me to go around and do everybody, I most certainly will. Most of them are in violation of the current state statutes and would receive and Illinois state citation for it, which goes against your driving record.”
Lansford said he does ask the owner to move or legally park a vehicle before issuing a citation.
Board member Clayton Ahlden was against the “nitpicking” he believed this ordinance would lead to.
“People are already spending their own money putting rock down to park where they are,” he said. “People are going to start just parking in their yard and it’s going to look really trashy.”
The board did seem to agree on limiting parking to licensed motorized vehicles.
“We’re not the only village in the area that’s has tried to do something about this,” board member Frank Koebel said, pointing to Henderson’s research into parking ordinances in Monticello, Atwood and Arthur.
“I would think we’re all pretty much in agreement with non-licensed, non-registered vehicles not being allowed,” Ahlden said.
Ahlden brought the ordinance up to a vote with four voting against adoption and two (Koebel, Judy Good) voting for it.
The board approved an $800 donation to the beautification committee for flower boxes and band shell landscaping for the season.
The donation is $300 more than the village gave last year, in order to cover the remaining money usually given by the now-disbanded Bement Chamber of Commerce.