Council considers removing campers from streets, yards

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Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:00 pm

After repeated public messages that the city of Sidney would not remove campers from yards until there’s enough housing, officials appear to be changing their tune. 

Public works director Jeff Hintz asked the Sidney City Council last week for an ordinance requiring campers be removed from streets and backyards. 

“Aside from having to deal with garbage issues, which takes up the better part of my time, campers is a close second,” he said. “We get a lot of complaints from neighbors who are just fed up with it. Not only campers in streets but campers in people’s backyards.” 

The request is almost in stark contrast to what the city had said just two meetings prior when resident Dan Johnson questioned officials for neglecting to remove campers. At the time, Hintz said his crews were working to halt illegal hookups to city services. “So maybe this is a good time for us to look at doing something…” council member Deb Gilbert said. 

Mayor Bret Smelser, who’s been most vocal about not following Williston, N.D., yet, maintained his position that the city isn’t built out enough to enforce such an ordinance, but he conceded “this is entirely up to the city council to decide.” 

“A lot of these camper things are cleared out,” Hintz defended. “I mean, there’s room, plenty of room. Some of them (RV parks) are even advertising that they’ve got room.” 

While illegal hookups are an issue, Hintz also worries about winter snow removal when campers are parked on the streets. Police Chief Frank DiFonzo said his department will begin ordering residents to remove trailers from streets on Monday. The department can not order people out of backyards, however. DiFonzo suggested imitating Williston, which adopted the measure in April. 

Despite reservations, Smelser assigned the matter to the city buildings and street lighting committee to discuss and make a recommendation to the council. 

In other business during the Sept. 17 council meeting:

• Resident Kim Kauffman, representing residents living on Third Street N.W., asked the city to consider erecting signs or a speed bump to control traffic on the street. She claimed drivers aren’t paying attention and don’t slow down in an area saturated with children. Smelser said the city would look into it. 

• Construction to extend the bike path has begun along Fifth Street S.W. 

• The council passed two ordinances and resolutions. Among them was the second readings of Ordinance 540, zoning the Degn Farm property, and Ordinance 541, zoning the Julius Degn land as highway business. 

reporter@sidneyherald.com