During the first Sidney City Council meeting in December, Chief of Police Frank DiFonzo proposed an ordinance restricting the idling of diesel-powered vehicles between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The issue was decidedly kicked back to the Street and Alley Committee, which met Monday, Jan. 13, to discuss the ordinance. More than a dozen community members with vested interest in the ordinance attended the meeting.
“I had come to council and asked them to take a look at the ordinance in a manner that would help protect the residential areas of the City of Sidney from the noise, fumes and odors that are caused by diesel-powered vehicles which are left running for extended periods of time,” DiFonzo said.
DiFonzo said he didn’t think the ordinance is unreasonable and answered questions from attendees concerned about the impact on their businesses.
Tim Partin, a citizen who attended the meeting, asked the police chief why this issue was being addressed now when the issue was likely more problematic during the oil boom.
“Our business runs 24 hours a day, just like yours, Frank,” Partin said. “We have to be ready at a moment’s notice just like you. Diesel trucks can’t sit there overnight and be froze.”
DiFonzo asked if he parked his trucks in a residential area and left them running. Partin said he didn’t, but his business is within 500 feet of a residential area, a specification prohibited in the proposed ordinance.
“The problem with that is it’s noisy. Well it’s zoned commercial, it’s supposed to be noisy,” Partin said. “It ain’t any noisier than the train going over across the tracks, blowing the horn, or the beets getting dumped in the flume.”
Smelling and breathing in diesel fumes is a health concern, DiFonzo said, to which Partin disagreed.
“The problem with this is that Cenex wants to put in a truck stop next to your house,” Partin said.
“That’s right,” DiFonzo said. “That’s one of the reasons. Don’t I have a right to say something about that?”
Other concerns from business owners were discussed, including emergency jobs that may come up and require diesel-powered vehicles run for extended periods of time. City attorney Thomas Kalil specified to the crowd that emergency situations are permitted under the proposed ordinance and that the time addressed is 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., not during regular business hours.
The ordinance, as stated, does not prohibit any diesel truck from pulling into a truck stop and fueling, only from idling for longer than 30 minutes within the specified hours.
After much discussion, the Street and Alley Committee decided to look into possible amendments to Ordinance 581 at a future committee meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.
In other news
Parks and Recreation Committee met to address the proposed parking lot for Johnson Park. In a letter from Jen Doty, CEO of Sidney Health Center, the hospital is no longer interested in pursuing the parking lot at Johnson Park as an option at this time.
Police and Fire Committee voted to recommend to City Council the refurbishment of Sidney Pierce Fire Truck, estimated at $124,710. The truck currently has 12,710 miles and 1,010 hours of use and Kale Rasmussen, fire marshal, said he believes a refurbishment will greatly extend the life of the 1997 fire truck.