UNION — Doug Francis attended Monday’s city of Union council meeting to discuss the city’s no street parking restriction during snowfalls of more than two inches.
Francis lives on the portion of Main Street that extends south from Lexington Farm road running parallel to State Route 48 and results in a dead end. His home is the last house at the end of the dead end and is located directly across the street from the Covered Wagon Farm Market.
“My daughter was fortunate enough to receive two snow tickets because our car was parked legally in front of our driveway and in front of our house,” Francis said. “We didn’t receive any notification about a snow emergency and when we ended up finding out that it was time to move the car, which was the next morning, the snow plow had already come through during the middle of the night. We didn’t hear it, we didn’t see it and didn’t get any notification. When the police came out the next day we immediately went out to move the car, but it was too late. We already got issued a citation.”
A second citation ended up going to Quantico and Camp Lejeune due to his daughter having a spouse in the military before it finally arrived at their house, but by the time it arrived it was past the deadline to pay the fine.
“Fortunately someone was nice enough at the city to end up paying it for us,” Francis said. “Whoever that is, I am very thankful and grateful.”
Francis said his problem lies with how the ordinance is written stating in part, “No vehicle shall at any time during and within 24 hours following a heavy snow event be parked upon any streets, or parts thereof, within the city or in any way to cause or permit the vehicle to interfere with snow removal operations or transportation.”
He argued that even though he understands the need for the ordinance, since he lives at the end of a dead end where there would be no traffic at all, his vehicles pose no interference. He also pointed out that snow gets plowed and piled up at the end of his driveway. The last time an officer issued a citation Francis pointed out that he did not have enough room in his driveway for all the vehicles at his residence. The officer suggested that after the snowplow cleared one side of the street that he park his vehicle on that side.
“That is exactly what we did, but nobody returned to clean the side that I had gotten the citation for parking on,” Francis said. “My question is, how can you be fair to us as citizens if you are going to issue us a ticket for being involved in a snow removal situation where your regulation says anytime during and within a 24 hour period following, then we shouldn’t be given a written citation if we are going to move that car in that period of time, which most of the people would be more than happy to.”
Francis said everyone on his street is upset because they will have to park their cars up in their yards in order to avoid being ticketed. He also stated that snow predictions vary throughout the area and it is impossible to know how much would fall in Union. He said he was made aware just before he spoke about the city’s alert notification system. He also asked why only one side of the street gets cleared and then the plow driver never returns to clear the other side.
City Manager John Applegate told Francis the snow ordinance was enacted the year after the historic blizzard of 1978. Applegate noted that residents are made aware of the Nixle alert system and are reminded every year about the snow ordinance in the city’s newsletter.
“We do enforce the ordinance because I plowed 35 hours straight during that blizzard and I can remember, dead ends, everything… it was a nightmare,” Applegate said. “Since that point it is something I have never forgotten and anybody that lived here never forgot it either. We get a good compliance on dead ends, cul-de-sacs, whatever. The best thing I can say is the way the news media is these days, they are giving you the Armageddon three days in advance of what is going to be coming. It is always hard to guess. My favorite saying is that when they are telling you 1 to 3 inches you should expect 3 to 6 and f they tell you that you are going to get 3 to 6 you are going to get nothing. That’s the tough part.”
As far as the plow driver not clearing both sides of Francis’ street, Applegate said he would talk to the driver that works in that area to make sure it gets cleared.
“If both sides don’t cleared, don’t be afraid to call because we will be there to make sure that it is,” Applegate added.
After Francis spoke city officials advised that all residents should sign up to receive real-time alerts through Nixle, a service that delivers text message notifications to email accounts and cell phones.
Union residents can receive real-time notices for:
• Snow emergencies
• Road closures
• Boil-water advisories
• Tornado warnings
• And other official notifications
Residents can register for updates at www.nixle.com. The web site also offers subscribers the ability to easily determine which public organizations they want to hear from and the types of messages they will accept.
Residents that have questions regarding Nixle can contact Union’s Director of Public Safety Mike Blackwell At (937) 836-0912 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.