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Paynesville Press - December 19, 2001

City council outlaws parking maneuver

By Linda Stelling

Crossing a double yellow line to park on the opposite side of the street in Paynesville will soon be illegal. The Paynesville City Council approved a new ordinance to make the maneuver illegal at its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Paynesville Police Chief Tony Schmitt brought the issue to the council in early November due to safety concerns. It's a common occurrence but an unsafe practice, according to Schmitt. Several accidents have occurred because people have crossed a double yellow line to park, he told the council.

"It is a big issue in downtown Paynesville," Schmitt said.

At the request of the council, city attorney Bill Spooner researched the legality of the maneuver earlier this month and found that no laws addressed it. It wasn't technically a U-turn. He advised the council that the city needed a new ordinance if the council wanted to address it.

The new ordinance states: "It is unlawful for any person to cross a double yellow line to park."

Violation of the ordinance will be a petty misdemeanor. Because this is a traffic violation, the Stearns County Chief Judge will decide on the amount of the fine, Spooner told the council.

Though the city isn't required to have signage, Spooner felt it would be wise to erect signs to alert people to the ordinance, especially since the city has a lot of summer visitors.

Ron Mergen, public works director, said it would cost about $80 per sign and that the city would need at least 10 posted around the downtown area.

"Our ultimate goal is safety," said councilman Dennis Zimmerman, when the cost of the signs was brought up. "We need to spend money on the signs to inform the public about the new ordinance."

The new ordinance will not go into effect until the city gets the signs posted and publishes the new ordinance. Mergen said it would take a few weeks to get the signs. He expects the new ordinance will take effect by the end of January.

Schmitt said another unsafe maneuver - not addressed by the new ordinance - is when motorists pull out of a parking space, cross a double yellow line, and drive in the opposite direction.

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