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VB curtails commercial truck parking

The Van Buren City Council has approved an ordinance to keep commercial vehicles from parking on residential streets and properties except in the normal course of deliveries.

Mayor Bob Freeman said keeping commercial vehicles from parking in residential neighborhoods has been talked about for a long time.

“It was not an easy decision,” he said. “We are going to step on some toes … but this needs to stop.”

The ordinance states the measure will “prevent excessive damage to roadways and prevents dangers to drivers resulting from blocked streets.”

Alderman Max Blake said he sees issues with the ordinance and calls should be expected.

“Owners and operators have built driveways to park dump trucks and wreckers,” Blake said. “Some have done it forever.”

City Attorney Candice Settle said there is no emergency clause on the ordinance therefore it cannot be enforced for 90 days after it is published in a newspaper.

Police Chief Kenneth Bell said officers will first write warning tickets when the ordinance becomes law.

“They will have to go somewhere and rent a place to park like I do,” Alderman Mary Ann Dodd said.

“The silent majority has been putting up with this for a long time,” Alderman Donna Parker said. “Yes, some are going to be upset but others are silently applauding.”

Freeman said the council may have to address in the future the parking of buses in residential areas.

“We are going to step on some toes but this needs to stop,” Dodd said. “When one or two people were doing it we could be flexible. But, the number is growing.”

Commercial vehicles are defined as:

• Any solid waste collection vehicle, truck tractor, truck trailer or tractor truck/trailer combination, any heavy construction equipment, dump truck, concrete mixer truck, garbage truck, pump-out truck, chemical/gasoline truck, fuel or oil truck or similar vehicle designed to transport waste, hazardous or noxious materials.

• Any vehicle with three or more axles.

• Any commercial vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 16,000 pounds.

• Any box or straight truck that has a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. A box or straight truck is one that has a high cubic feet of storage volume with a box or storage container built into a chassis typically used for hauling appliances, furniture or other cargo. Familiar terms used to describe box or straight trucks include cargo trucks, container trucks and moving trucks.

Violations could result in fines of up to $250.

Aldermen also voted Monday night to accept T&T Inc.’s bid of $624,951.01 to install traffic signals at North 16th Street and East Pointer Trail, improve the intersection and overlay Pointer Trail from 16th Street to 24th Street and North 16th Street from Pointer Trail to the city limits.

Freeman said T&T Inc. has agreed to an aggressive schedule to complete most of the North 16th Street and Pointer Trail project by the time school starts Aug. 19.

“They will start the overlays quickly to get them out of the way,” the mayor said. “They will try not to interfere with school as much as possible.”

Improvements at the intersection will include widening for turns, crosswalks and closing entrances from the tennis courts and Heritage United Methodist Church for safety issues,” Freeman said.

Traffic flow at the intersection is expected to increase with the completion of Northridge Drive from Arkansas 59 to Oliver Springs Road, providing an alternate route from the increasingly busy Arkansas 59.

The council also:

• Approved the sale at auction of a telephone system formerly used by the mayor’s office and a District Court copier which no longer works.

• Voted to continue an agreement between the Van Buren Police Department and Van Buren School District to provide and help fund school resource officers.

• Vacated half a public utility easement at Arkansas Lamp in the Industrial Park.

• Rezoned property on North 12th Street north of Lincoln Street from Residential 1 to Residential 3 to build a duplex.

• Reappointed Mark Evans, Jason Myers and John Symonds to the planning commission, Dwight Hopkins and Paul Gibson to the Historic District Commission, Jackie Wyatt to the library board and Carole Williamson to the auditorium commission.

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