City wants to ban prolonged car repairs in street

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

People in Huntingburg have been using public streets for long periods of time to make repairs on their vehicles, which has Police Chief Art Parks concerned about safety.

“We don’t want to keep people from changing tires or anything. That’s not the issue,” he told the Huntingburg Board of Public Works and Safety Thursday. “This is to keep people from tearing rotors off, removing axles, and that kind of stuff. Right now, we don’t have anything for that.”

People making such major repairs on a roadway could cause safety hazards, City Attorney Phil Schneider explained.

“There have been situations where people have done major vehicle repairs over a number of days in front of their homes in the public street, with their feet hanging out in the travel portion of the street,” he said. “That is dangerous for the person performing the maintenance. It’s also dangerous for other motorists.”

While these situations have come up in Huntingburg, other communities have not had issues with people fixing vehicles on public roads.

A Ferdinand Police officer on duty Friday afternoon said that people working on vehicles in the roadway is not typical in town.

Ferdinand follows state law, which calls a vehicle that is inoperable and on a public roadway an abandoned vehicle: “a vehicle from which the engine, transmission, or differential has been removed or that is otherwise partially dismantled or inoperable and left on public property.”

Such a vehicle left on a public road for more than 24 hours is a violation, and rules for removing abandoned vehicles are enacted.

Jasper’s rules also make it illegal to leave an inoperable vehicle in a roadway, calling them abandoned vehicles. City law also stipulates how such vehicles are removed. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the city.

“I’ve never received a call like that,” said Beth Herald, a communications officer with the Jasper Police Department. “And I’m here a lot.”

Huntingburg is considering an ordinance that makes it a violation to perform major maintenance work on a vehicle or equipment on a public street. With that, a fine could be assessed. The fine for the first offense would be $25 and then $50 for each offense following.

The only way an individual could use the street to make repairs is if the repairs are being done to remove the vehicle or equipment from the roadway, and that has to be done within two hours. After that, the vehicle or equipment could be towed.

“Two hours should be enough time to change a tire or charge a battery,” Schneider said.

Public works board member Roger Cox asked about situations in which a service like AAA has been called. Mayor Denny Spinner said that would be a professional road service company making the repairs to get the vehicle moving; it would not be individuals making the repairs in front of their house.

“We’ve had that happen,” Parks said, “and we take that into consideration to accommodate for that.”

Schneider added that common sense would have to be used when enforcing the ordinance.

The public works board recommended that the Huntingburg Common Council pass the ordinance. The earliest the council can start considering the ordinance is at its meeting next week. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.




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