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State law trumps; speed raised

The speed limit on a section of West Division Street between Dry Run and Apollo roads shouldn't have been changed from 35 to 25 mph a few years ago.

But it was.

Residents who lived in the area welcomed the change. Most people who live on the street said 25 mph was safer for themselves and their children.

However, the City Council was forced to act at its meeting last week Tuesday because state law requires outlying roads of that nature to maintain the higher limit.

The council voted 5-2 to raise the limit back to 35 mph.

"Contrary to what I may feel personally about the speed limit I think that what's been pointed out to us shows that the speed limit is inconsistent," said council member Wayne Beebe. "We may be in jeopardy of violating a state statute."

In order to be in accordance with the state statute, the 35 mph limit had to begin at least 1,050 feet west of Apollo Road on Division Street. This is what City Engineer Reid Wronski suggested based on engineering studies and guidelines.

There was also another option.

Council members could amend the law so the 35 mph limit began 1,450 west of Apollo road. This would leave the lower speed limit in front of two more homes on the south side of Division Street.

The amended version of the law passed 5-2.

Council member Dave Cronk, who cast one of the dissenting votes on the amendment, didn't understand why so much attention was being paid to the two particular Division Street homes.

"There are many driveways on the south end of town that have a 35 mph speed limit in front of them," he said. "I fail to see why we're so concerned with these two driveways and not the rest."

For Police Chief Roger Leque, concern came from a different direction.

Many of the residents in the area are distraught over the unsafe speeds drivers already use on the street. So Division Street resident Richard Peitso said he would like to see more police enforcement along the road with the higher speed limit.

Leque said that is easier said than done.

"It's an unfair expectation that the law enforcement is going to be out there to write tickets all the time," he said. Leque added that it would be hard for the police department to constantly enforce the new limit.

Council member Tom Caflisch disagreed with the chief.

"I think it's absolutely ludicrous for the chief of police to say (the new limit) shouldn't be enforced," Caflisch said. "People have every right to expect that."

In other council news:

• The proposed 2005 city budget appeared in front of the council for its first reading. The proposed budget includes all funds except water, sewer and electric. It also calls for a proposed levy amount of $3,467,606, which is a 5% increase over the current mill rate. The proposed budget will go before the council again at its next meeting.

• The council denied Kylie Schultz her bartender's license for the West Wind Supper Club. Schultz appealed to the council after she said she mistakenly failed to make known a disorderly conduct fine she had received that involved alcohol.