Defiance City Council discussed proposed rules for the use of “unconventional vehicles” on city streets during its meeting Tuesday night.
Council also received news from Finance Director John Lehner on the expected drop in city income tax receipts due to the coronavirus situation (see related story).
Council had discussed the unconventional vehicle issue on July 7 when At-large Councilman Joe Eureste read correspondence from city resident Ralph Hahn requesting a city ordinance to permit them on public streets. Golf carts are among the types of vehicles that are considered “unconventional,” but there are other smaller vehicles as well.
Hahn told Eureste that confusion exists about the legality of such vehicles, and wanted clarity.
“In our city of Defiance there is no clear language of ordinance that I can find pertaining to the above-mentioned vehicles,” Hahn wrote. “There is confusion as to what is allowed and what is not. The Defiance traffic codes are not clear in this respect.”
Indeed, Law Director Sean O’Donnell who has been asked by a majority of council members to draw up legislation on the matter, told them Tuesday that there is no city ordinance prohibiting or allowing such vehicles. He indicated that council is free to draw up its own rules under home rule powers, but these cannot contravene state law.
As such, unconventional vehicles won’t be allowed on state routes within the city, although they can cross them, O’Donnell explained. And they won’t be permitted on streets with speed limits over 35 miles per hour, although a local rule could lower the speed threshold for those vehicles.
O’Donnell informed council that any such vehicle will need to have passed a safety inspection to be street legal. Who will handle the inspections was a topic of discussion Tuesday.
He suggested that the police department may have to be involved as the state statute indicates that local law enforcement are responsible, explained O’Donnell. However, he indicated that this could be delegated to another entity.
At-large Councilman Steve Waxler said he spoke with Police Chief Todd Shafer who has some concerns about the proposal. According to Waxler, police believe allowing unconventional vehicles on city streets only adds to the department’s safety concerns.
“I talked to the police chief about this and they’re not real big on this,” he said. “It’s all safety issues for them. It’s something else they got to watch for when there’s police and fire running hot somewhere.”
At council’s July 7 meeting, council approved a motion, 4-3, instructing O’Donnell to draw up legislation modeled on the City of Napoleon’s legislation governing unconventional vehicles.
Council will consider the ordinance during next week’s meeting.
In other business Tuesday, council:
• let lie an ordinance allowing the vacation of an alley at 920 Washington Ave., between lots 13 and 14 in the W.C. Holgate Third Add. The city’s planning commission voted to recommend the vacation during its meeting on July 20. O’Donnell noted that three readings are required for the ordinance.
• approved the appointment of Kenyotta Stantz to the Defiance Public Library board. She replaces Taryn Lawson who was hired as the library’s communications coordinator.
• was informed by Mayor Mike McCann that portions of Kiser Road were to be closed Wednesday for repairs.