BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A crowded room at Council Chambers led to a mildly heated public hearing on an ordinance to change the description of a commercial vehicle.
Chris Sorrentino a full-time truck driver asked the City Council why they were considering voting on the measure when, according to Sorrentino, there were not any reports of complaints on record with the city. Sorrentino said he’s not allowed to park his truck in front of his house nor on his own property.
The Fort Madison City Council voted 4-1 to approve the first reading of the ordinance. Councilman Brian Wright voted against the change.
Wright asked Public Works Director Larry Driscoll if there was a way that the city could, at a minimum, create a lot where these professional drivers could park.
“I guess I want to know if that’s doable and what the legalities of that are,” Wright said, which prompted Councilman Rusty Andrews to ask Wright if he wanted the City Council in the Truck Stop business.
“That’s why I’m asking about the legality of it,” Wright said.
Sorrentino, who directed most of his questions directly at Mayor Brad Randolph, said Fort Madison isn’t a destination place.
“I mean no disrespect, Mayor, but there’s nothing that brings people into this town. That trailer is my life and my home away from home. I’m just here to ask why? Why now?” Sorrentino said.
Councilman Chris Greenwald said the reason for why was that people had been complaining that only a few people were being targeted with citations for violating the code as far as commercial vehicles being parked on public streets.
“They said if you’re going to get any of us, you have to get all of us,” Greenwald said. “So that’s the answer as to why.”
Sorrentino also pointed to two city trash haulers that were parked on Avenue E for a better portion of the day on Tuesday prior to the meeting and asked why the Fort Madison Police Department hadn’t ticketed the city for those trucks.
The two trucks were parked outside City Hall parallel to each other one on each side of the street reducing traffic to one-way between the two.
“Those are in violation of city parking code,” Sorrentino said and then directed his line of questioning at Fort Madison Police Chief Tim Sittig who was seated next to the podium.
“Why hasn’t the city been cited for that violation,” Sorrentino asked.
Sittig said he hadn’t seen the vehicles out there that long.
Driscoll said he parked the trucks there to show those attending the City Council meeting what was considered a commercial vehicle.
New recommended code would include dimensions of 10 feet high, 8 feet wide and 22 feet long. Anything beyond any of those dimensions would be considered a commercial vehicle. The code also addresses vehicles of business ownership taken home at night that are within those guidelines provided they are parked completely on the owner’s private property.
Any food trucks would be considered commercial vehicles. Trailers not self-propelled, but those designed to be coupled or pulled by another vehicle and recreational vehicles that are over the limits are both considered commercial vehicles under the new code. One exception on the food trucks is that the food trucks may be stored on residential property if the vehicle is under the dimensions.
Current city code also restricts anything over 10,000 pounds whether empty or loaded having no fixed terminal within the city from traveling on certain streets. An exception is being proposed for allowing recreational vehicles to move on residential streets for the purpose of being stored on private property.