December 8, 2019

Chester residents admit they did not know of speed zone; county to amend ordinance - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Chester residents admit they did not know of speed zone; county to amend ordinance

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Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 3:49 pm

Chester area residents recently learned that failing to read the local newspaper can bring unexpected surprises which require remediation.

On Tuesday morning, 19 individuals signed up to address the Lake County Commission about an ordinance that was adopted in October establishing a speed zone of 30 mph on 241st Street near Chester. At least three of them admitted they don't read the Madison Daily Leader and did not know the     ordinance had been adopted.

"The first time a lot of us knew that a speed zone was going to be implemented was when we saw flags and signs a couple weeks ago," Keith Alverson said when the meeting was opened to public comments.

Between news articles and published legals, the speed zone was mentioned in the newspaper 10 times over a course of two months after Chester resident Sharron Anderson wrote a letter asking that a speed limit of 30 mph be established entering Chester from the east and west on 241st Street. She cited seven safety hazards: the railroad crossing, semi trucks, a new business along this roadway, people walking or biking, a cemetery, six turnoffs within one-fourth mile east of the intersection with 464th Avenue, and school bus stops and turns.

Jeff Brown opened the discussion about the speed zone with three questions. Does it have to be that far out of town? Is that really what Mrs. Anderson wanted? Does it have to be 30 mph?

Commissioner Deb Reinicke pointed out the matter had been discussed in open meetings on four separate occasions.

"Nobody was here," she said. "We tried to do what you wanted us to do and nobody was here for the meetings."

Alverson acknowledged that Chester area residents had not opposed the ordinance and said he understood the safety concerns, but he asked for a compromise. He felt that establishing the zone one-half mile on either side of the intersection was excessive and noted the speed zone entering Madison isn't reduced to 35 mph until SD-34 reaches city limits.

Jeff Hass acknowledged the need but also asked that the distance be changed. He said people are already slowing down for the railroad tracks.

Bus driver Bob Reiff said he didn't even see the signs establishing the speed zone until another driver pointed them out. He suggested reducing the speed to 45 mph and then to 30 mph.

"We're not against the zone, but we are against where it is located," Tom Reiff said.

Shawn Martin said that he has lived on that road for years and didn't see a need for it. He admitted he didn't even notice the speed zone had been established until his daughter mentioned it.

"She told me on Saturday and I'd been driving through it since Wednesday. There's not a need," Martin said.

Scott Reiff said that he drives the road daily and finds it "extremely difficult" to drive 30 mph. He offered the commissioners a challenge.

"Have you driven out there?" Reiff asked. "If you haven't, try it."

Brett Bauman wanted to know who decided the speed zone should start where it did. Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer, said she made the decision after discussing the matter with Lake County Sheriff Tim Walburg and with the county Highway Department.

After these individuals and several others either offered comments or said "Ditto," Reinicke summarized her understanding of their objections.

"You don't like how far it's out," she noted.

Brian Anderson, who lives west of Chester and is a school bus driver, said he has to drive the road six times a day and asked that the speed limit be changed to 45 mph from the west. He said his mother's initial letter suggested the speed zone start one-quarter mile from the intersection, which is why he didn't oppose it earlier.

Anderson pointed out his mother's driveway is 1,200 feet from the intersection and the cemetery is 1,300 feet from the intersection. He felt the speed zone should start closer to those points.

Brown wanted to know why the commissioners didn't contact the township board as they did in 2014 when establishing a speed zone in Chester for the school. However, published records indicate the township board attended the second reading of the ordinance and asked to be part of the decision-making process.

Gust said she determined one-half mile to be appropriate because of the hill. Walburg reported funeral homes had expressed concern about the speed of passing vehicles when holding a burial at the cemetery. He indicated he only requested consistency when consulted.

Alverson pointed out that local traffic is already slowing for the stop sign at the intersection when approaching Chester. He felt warning signs 1,000 feet from the speed zone would slow traffic enough to accommodate the hill and cemetery if the distance were reduced.

"We're doubling the distance from the north and south where there are no stop signs that people are slowing down for," he said.

Following a short discussion, commissioners voted to amend the speed zone to start one-quarter mile or 1,320 feet from the intersection. Gust advised those in attendance the process would take six to eight weeks.

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