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04-19-10, 08:17 AM #1
North Hampton, ODOT in dispute over speed limit in village
This village of 352 residents that’s long lived under a cloud of suspicion for its traffic enforcement now finds itself in the midst of another dispute over speed in the town — this time with a state agency.
The Ohio Department of Transportation contends that the speed limit on a portion of the main road through town, 1,000 feet on the eastern side of village, should be 50 mph. Village officials maintain that 35 mph is the appropriate limit. The dispute has been ongoing since the 1990s.
ODOT officials say state law is clear — because there are buildings only on the north side of Ohio 41 on the east side of the village, it is not sufficiently developed to warrant a slower speed. Village officials rebuff that.
Councilman Keith Baldwin said the village passed an ordinance that governed speed limits in the town in 1960, and questions ODOT’s jurisdiction to nullify that law.
“What gives them the right to void an ordinance that was enacted in 1960?” Baldwin said.
ODOT officials have since offered to fund a speed study — a necessity for the 35 mph limit to become legal — but negotiations hit a wall.
Baldwin said they want state officials to produce written documentation of their authority before moving forward.
A News-Sun investigation of police ticketing practices in North Hampton found officers wrote 1,296 citations in 2008. At least 170 citations — for various traffic violations including speed — were issued in the disputed area that year.
Charles Balzer, a former village solicitor, said it all started in 1990 when officials allegedly saw a moneymaking opportunity in traffic tickets.
In 1993, Balzer said this issue was part of the reason why he resigned after 25 years of service.
“I saw trouble coming,” he said.
To Balzer, speed enforcement in North Hampton is all about the money — and he says it was designed that way.
Balzer, a former village solicitor, said the landscape changed during a council meeting in 1990.
The police chief at that time announced a new plan to Village Council, Balzer said.
It was a proposal to earn more money for the town by writing traffic tickets, a goal that could be accomplished with the purchase of a new cruiser, said Balzer.
“He passed out a memo about how much money could be made,” Balzer said.
Balzer said he doesn’t know what that memo said because he wasn’t handed a copy and all the memos were gathered after the meeting.
“It doesn’t appear in the minutes,” he said.
It was an issue that Balzer said figured into his decision-making when he retired in 1993 after 25 years as solicitor.
North Hampton, ODOT in dispute over speed limit in villageDo not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
04-19-10, 08:22 AM #2
Dontcha just LOOOOVE politics??\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
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