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New parking ordinance more efficient

SAVING RESIDENTS MONEY Thanks to the approval of an amended ordinance Monday night, Lyons residents will only have to pay a $25 ticket now instead of $125 if they park on town roads between December 1 and April 1 from 2 and 6 a.m. Also, a traffic map will be available for all residents at the Town Hall which will outline stop signs, yield signs and speed limits in the town. The ordinance will be enforced in order to help the highway department do its job of maintaining roads in the winter without interference from vehicles.
July 14, 2010 | 08:53 AM
Lyons — As little as a month ago, any resident who was written a ticket for parking his or her car overnight on town roads was in for a monetary shocker.

What started as a $25 fine suddenly became a $125 total fee based on court costs through the town and Walworth County courts.

However, thanks to a complaint from resident Mark Schilling back in February and extensive work by ordinance enforcer Andy Makar, town officials approved a motion Monday night at the monthly Town Board meeting to amend a new ordinance that will cost residents $25 a ticket for parking overnight between Dec. 1 and April 1 from 2 to 6 a.m.

Officials are relieved to be able to not overcharge residents.

"We would like to keep our rural character but maintain safety," Town Supervisor Jim Shimeck said. "This new ticket is much cheaper and more efficient. There is no reason to involve the court system."

The ordinance specifically states offenders "shall be deemed guilty of an offense and shall forfeit no less than $25 but not more than $100 and the costs of prosecution, collection or enforcement."

However, Town Chairman Bill Mangold assured the crowd excess fees would only be incurred if residents failed to pay on time.

"This will not generate revenue for the town in any way," Makar said.

"It's just the best way for the Highway Department to do its job."

The Highway Department needs the roads clear early in the morning to plow excess snow.

Along with the parking ordinance change, residents will now have access to an official traffic map located at the town hall.

According to the traffic code, the map will include "speed zones, through streets, stop signs, yield right-of-way signs, one-way streets, parking prohibitions and restrictions and heavy traffic routes ... kept on file in the town hall."

"We want the highway department to continue to do its job," Mangold said.

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Back in February, resident Mark Schilling decided he wasn't going to pay a $124.50 ticket for parking on a town street overnight and attempted to bring his case to a jury trial.

He even told his story to Fox 6 news in Milwaukee.

Although Lyons Ordinance Enforcer Andy Makar apparently left a warning on Schilling's car, Schilling said he never got it.

Eventually his case was dropped, and the incident prompted the Town Board to look into changes to the overnight parking ordinance.

"Primarily, it was being enforced during the winter months," Makar said. "Our No. 1 concern was to take the vehicles off the road so the towns could plow safely and efficiently."

Mangold said there currently are a dozen signs throughout the town that mention the parking hours.

The ordinance is only enforceable on town roads, not state highways such as Highways 36 or 11.

Mangold and Makar said that failure to pay fines can ultimately lead to vehicle suspension.

In November, Makar will hang warning cards on cars in violation in preparation for Dec. 1.

He is open to giving the benefit of the doubt to residents with valid excuses.

"If you give me a legitimate reason, I'll dismiss the ticket," Makar said.

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Walworth County