Council considers no engine braking law

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council discussed prohibiting engine braking in the city during its workshop session, Monday evening.

City Manager Mark Cundiff told council a resident of Cumberland Avenue recently asked if the city could prohibit engine braking 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. Cundiff said the resident indicated, that after checking with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), ODOT will not erect “No Engine Brake” signs to control the noise of interstate commerce on the mainline or ramps to interstate routes because it may be inconsistent with federal law, and “thus deemed preempted and unenforceable.”

The resident asked if the city could place signs on Fair Road and if homeowners may erect their own signs requesting drivers not to engine brake on the off-ramp. As a result of the request, Cundiff said, it was discovered the city currently does not have an ordinance prohibiting engine braking. Amick and Police Chief Will Balling reviewed examples, provided by the inquiring resident, of other communities with such an ordinance and found that most of these jurisdictions do not enforce the no engine braking law because it is difficult to prove. It was noted that an officer must physically see and hear the vehicle engine braking to write a citation.

Cundiff pointed out that Sidney Fire Department engine brakes while operating vehicles to fire scenes, so they would need to be exempted from the regulation.

Although most members of council appeared to be in favor of passing an ordinance, Mayor Mike Barhorst asked why council would institute a law that the city was not going to, or be able to, enforce. Also, Council member Darryl Thurber questioned creating the ordinance as he asked for, and was given, confirmation that Sidney cannot regulate the Interstate’s off-ramps and is not permitted to install signs along the ramps.

Council member Ed Hamaker said although it would be best if signs could be placed back a ways before a driver would engine brake upon the ramp, signs could be installed on Fair Road. He noted that with Love’s Travel Stop coming to Sidney next year, the noise will get worse and therefore the city should try to do something. Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan agreed and said people are not only concerned about the noise coming from I-75, but also on Fair Road.

Council member Joe Ratermann suggested for the city to start by inquiring with ODOT about the requirements for constructing a sound barrier wall.

The inquiring resident, said Council member Steve Wagner, represents the resident’s association for the subdivision in the Cumberland Avenue area. Wagner said he was certain the representative would be present, along with several other residents, during a future open council meeting to express concerns.

Council agreed to discuss the matter further at the next council meeting after obtaining information from ODOT.

There were also discussions on council’s upcoming retreat and/or goal setting session, and reviews of council rules, the city’s charter and organizational chart.

Law Director Jeffrey Amick recommended no changes are needed for council rules or the city’s charter.

During the review of the organizational chart, changes Cundiff pointed out were the amended position title of the community services director to community development director, for “more accurately reflecting the work of the department,” and also changes for whom certain positions will report to. The law director and city clerk would directly report of City Council, and the human resources department would report directly to the city manager. Legislation on changes to the organizational chart will be brought forth at the next meeting on Jan. 8.

Council also briefly discussed its biennial retreat. Cundiff sought direction about whether to plan a session that will combine strategic planning for the city’s future as well as goal setting, or if of two separate dates for separate focused meetings should be established. Members of council felt they could better determine which is necessary if they knew what city staff has compiled for discussion, so Cundiff agreed to provide the developing list for further discussion at the next council meeting.

There was also a review the upcoming Zoning Board Agenda for Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, and review the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days. Cundiff said January’s Planning Commission meeting is cancelled, as nothing is on the agenda.

Barhorst told council that during the land bank meeting earlier in the day, it was determined the next house that is scheduled to be torn down will be the last one the land bank will take down that is packed full of trash. He said two previous homes torn down that were filled with trash cost about $10,000 for the removal of trash alone.

Council also went into an executive session to consider compensation 0f a public employee and the appointment of a public official. No action was taken when they emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.