No jake brake ordinance still tabled

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council decided Monday to keep the tabled “no jake braking” ordinance tabled until after the new truck stop on Fair Road opens for business.

The issue returned to council’s agenda Cumberland Avenue resident Merrill Asher, who serves as representative for his neighborhood’s homeowners association, asked for further consideration so they “can move on.” The issue was first discussed during council’s workshop session on Jan. 4.

The ordinance would prohibit engine braking in Sidney. It would also be prohibited on the Interstate 75 northbound off-ramp at Fair Road and along Fair Road at the traffic signal at the I-75 northbound off-ramp where Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store is being built.

The developing truck stop is located on the other side of I-75 from concerned Cumberland residents.

Love’s Travel Stop is scheduled to open in December.

At council’s Sept. 24 meeting, Asher asked members to review the additional information he provided that evening, including more signatures to a petition wanting a no jake braking ordinance in Sidney, and reasons why such an ordinance should be adopted based upon an existing noise ordinance.

During that meeting, Asher said the federal government has a noise ordinance set at 80 decimals and Sidney has one set at 60 decimals. He told council he believes some of the trucks on the road today reach 60 decimals. He also pointed out the ordinance is similar to the seat-belt law, which can also be difficult to enforce.

The consensus among council members Monday was split. Members Joe Ratermann and Janet Born felt the item should be removed from the agenda because it is unnecessary and difficult to enforce.

Ratermann said news articles Asher presented, and others he read, about no jake braking did not fully support Asher’s position and one indicated that no jake braking signs may make the problem worse by defiant truck drivers.

Ratermann said he asked the homeowners association about paying extra for the costs associated with the difficult to enforce ordinance as well as suggested they build a larger noise barrier between I-75 and their homes. He said the association rejected the barrier idea and no known further inquiry was made by the homeowners association about contributing to the costs involved the ordinance.

“It seems to me the homeowners association appears to be trying to shift its responsibility for the quiet neighborhood next to Interstate, and its costs, to the government. It appears the cost, instead of being born by a few in that neighborhood should be spread out by all 20,000 residents, instead of being born by them,” Ratermann said when recommending the ordinance be removed from the agenda.

Mayor Mike Barhorst said he understands new trucks do not have the same problems with noise as the old ones and the older trucks will soon be off the roadways. He admitted, however, to not being able to get comments “on the record” about it from trucking manufacturers. Barhorst also said he understands the homeowners associations’s concerns.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan felt council should take into consideration that the city allowed the truck stop to be built across from the existing neighborhood on the other side of I-75. She said when the city allowed Love’s to build at that location, the increased traffic and noise was a known factor the residents did not ask for.

“I think what the residents are asking is if we would make the ordinance and post the signs. And to me, a quieter neighborhood, is a better neighborhood. And I understand that it seems kind of silly in some ways when you are not going to catch everyone,” Milligan said. “We were the ones who approved the truck stop knowing there was a residential neighborhoods right there.”

Barhorst reminded her the city actually allowed the zoning which allowed for Love’s to develop in Sidney. He suggested to leave the ordinance tabled until after the truck stop opens and it is known whether or not there is a noise problem.

“If there is (a problem), I don’t mind passing an ordinance if homeowners think its going to help them. I guess I come from a background where I know when people complain, sometimes those people complained about do decide to rev the engine and make even more noise,” Barhorst said.

Council member Darryl Thurber noted he tends to lean more toward Milligan’s perspective and expressed empathy for the homeowners situation. He said if council is going to base passing the ordinance upon whether or not it is easily enforced, then they should re-examine several other ordinances, such as unmowed lawns, junk in yard and houses falling apart. He said given the large number of trucks already on the road, the huge increase of trucks in the years to come, and increased noise level from them, his is more inclined to support the no jake braking ordinance.

Council member Steve Wagner said he sees both sides of the issue, and although he was leaning one unstated way more than the other, ultimately agreed with Barhorst’s suggestion to keep it tabled until after Love’s opens. At the beginning of the discussion, Council member Ed Hamaker agreed with Ratermann and Born to take the item off of the agenda, but after continued discussion, also agreed to table it.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.