A Mobile City Council committee is abandoning a proposed ordinance dealing with street closures and leaving the issue to Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration.
Members of the council’s public safety committee approved the recommendation at a meeting Tuesday, after hearing complaints and suggestions from speakers and members of the administration.
Two speakers from the Ridgefield neighborhood, who were part of the Zoom meeting, complained about cut-through traffic in the area and had concerns over the language in the proposed ordinance. The speakers were hopeful the ordinance would allow them an avenue to indefinitely close a street in the neighborhood to prevent cut-through traffic and improve their quality of life.
Specifically, Ridgefield resident Scott Jones said the ordinance puts too much of the responsibility for the street closure on the residents.
“It’s not a resident problem, it’s a city problem,” Jones said. “Why are you putting the burden on the backs of residents.”
For instance, the proposal requires petitioners to identify impacted owners, any known entity with equipment or utility lines and include three sets of adhesive labels to be used to mail notices to those mentioned. The proposal also asks residents to list in any street closure petition any previous actions they or the city have taken to alleviate the problem. This part of the ordinance sparked questions from Councilman John Williams.
“There’s nothing a resident can do by themselves on a street,” he said. “The fact is they’re not authorized to do anything to a street without our permission. What we need is the administration to put together a policy or ordinance we can bless.”
City Traffic Engineer Jennifer White told councilors the proposal seemed light on details and because of that it might not be effective.
“I’m looking at it and wondering what you’re trying to accomplish,” White said. “I don’t see a clear path of what a citizen would need to do.”
Deputy City Attorney Flo Kessler agreed. She argued the proposal doesn’t offer much in the way of alternatives to street closures for residents.
“We’ve heard about cut-through traffic,” she said. “Street closures are the only way and maybe not even the best way to deal with it. If you close a street, traffic backs up in another area.”
Kessler also criticized some of the language in the proposal. For instance, it mentions streets abutting three levels of residential zoning. However, that could include major thoroughfares, like Airport Boulevard and Hillcrest Road.
Before the committee vote, Mayor Sandy Stimpson spoke on the issue. He said the administration would work with councilors on the issue, but he added that officials didn’t want to waste their time on a policy councilors wouldn’t agree to follow. In the past, Stimpson said councilors had denied all but one request to close a street due to safety concerns. Specifically he mentioned efforts by neighbors in the Airmont community being voted down by councilors.
“There evidently is a change in mindset over what the council wants,” Stimpson said. “In every occasion except Rosswood, council has voted not to close a street. We want to be part of the solution and we will engage.”
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