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Council discusses abandoned vehicles

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At last week’s regular meeting, the Elgin City Council heard more details about an imminent initiative to deal with junked and abandoned vehicles.

A junked vehicle is any motor vehicle that is wrecked, dismantled or discarded, or has remained inoperable for more than 72 hours on public property or 30 days on private property, and does not have an unexpired license plate and valid motor vehicle inspection certificate.

In the past, dealing with abandoned vehicles has been more complaint-driven; however, Elgin PD assistant chief Phillip Taylor told the council last Tuesday this initiative will be more proactive. He said he has wanted to tackle the issue of junked and abandoned vehicles for a long time, but as the city faces imminent growth, the situation will only become more difficult to manage if they don’t start enforcing the rules now.

Junked or abandoned cars parked on public property are a code enforcement issue, while vehicles parked on the street fall under the authority of the police. Going forward, Elgin PD and the city’s code enforcement department will work more closely together in dealing with junked and abandoned vehicles.

Taylor said they expected to issue very few citations, mainly to people who refuse to move the vehicles. He also added they will be open to working with people under special circumstances. City manager Thomas Mattis added those who are given a citation have the option to appeal the decision through the municipal court or the city manager’s office.

Taylor said some citizens on Facebook and Next-door have been critical of the initiative when it was announced, but most residents and business owners have been thankful.

“We want people to see Elgin, when they drive through, as a nice neighborhood, and not junk vehicles and boats and trailers in the street,” Taylor said. “That’s just going to turn people away.”

COUNCIL APPROVES NEW

PARADE RULES

The city council unanimously approved an ordinance to establish new requirements for parades in the City of Elgin.

The council had been discussing the proposed parade ordinance for the past couple of months. The previous ordinance was much shorter, only requiring permission from the city manager to hold a parade or similar event in the public space of the city and allowing for a process to appeal the denial of permission to the city council. This new ordinance changes the authority to issue parade permits to the chief of police and also outlines the procedures for applying for the permit.

Notably, the new ordinance would require parade permit applicants to pay a fee to the city for the cost of employing extra city staff, such as police, to shut down roads and clean up after the parade.

According to Mattis, the new ordinance has been reviewed by the organizers of the four current parades held in Elgin: the Juneteenth Festival, the Western Days Festival, the Veterans’ Recognition Parade and the Christmas Lighted Parade. He added the ordinance should not have any adverse effect on the events.

During the April 2 meeting, the council considered and granted the waiving of parade fees—a couple thousand dollars each—to the Juneteenth Festival committee and the Elgin Chamber of Commerce for Western Days. On Tuesday this week, the council also considered waiving or reducing the fees for the Veterans’ Recognition Parade.

Ahead of the council’s decision on the status of the Veterans’ Recognition Parade, American Legion Commander Post 295 John Quagliani spoke during public comment last week requesting a waiver for the Veterans’ Recognition Parade.

Similar to Elgin Juneteenth Organization president Bettye Lofton, who spoke to the council in April, Quagliani said the proposed fees from the city to hold the parade would be cost-prohibitive to the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations hosting the parade, and argued the organizations provide a public service to the community by supporting local veterans with financial aid.

ALSO AT LAST WEEK’S CITY

COUNCIL MEETING:

- Mattis provided an update on the progress in reaching out to residents in a 212-acre area southeast of the city that was involuntarily annexed in December 2015. The city is considering dis-annexing the eastern part of the area in exchange for development agreements with property owners, while retaining the west part of the area between the railroad tracks and FM 1704. Mattis said staff has reached out to all property owners in the area that is proposed to be dis-annexed by sending them each a letter with the dis-annexation agreement. Once feedback is received from these property owners, Mattis said they will bring their findings back to the council to discuss the situation further.

- The council tabled a resolution approving a development agreement for the 1,650-home Trinity Ranch residential development. The agreement for the municipal utility district, which would allow the city to provide wastewater treatment services to the development, was mostly ready for this week, but city staff and the developers agreed to take an extra week to finalize the details without rushing.

- The next meeting was moved to this week on Tuesday, May 14 from later in the month, as the council is required to canvas, or officially review and certify, the results from the May 4 local elections. The following meeting will take place on June 4.