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Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Celina council passes ordinance on J-turns

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Drivers who cause accidents while making legal J-turns into a parking space will be cited by police officers.
Celina council members on Monday night unanimously passed an ordinance updating the city's traffic laws after suspending the rules for the required three readings. The new provision takes effect in 30 days.
According to city safety service director Tom Hitchcock, 11 accidents involving J-turns on the 200 block of Main Street near the post office and chamber of commerce were documented in two years.
No state law prohibits J-turns - the crossing of one lane of traffic to another to park in a marked spot - but municipalities can create and enforce their own, city law director George Moore said.
Motorists backing from a parking space who are involved in J-turn accidents currently are cited, Hitchcock said.
"We don't think it's fair, and (the police department) doesn't think it's fair, but the only thing on the books is improper backing," he said. "So we're not against J-turns but we think there should be some penalty if somebody causes an accident while doing a J-turn."
Council on Monday night also unanimously passed an ordinance appropriating $5,600 to the court special project fund to pay engineers Garmann/Miller & Associates, Minster, for plans to renovate the city municipal court and clerk of courts offices in city hall.
"Our study will include plans of the proposed alterations, proposed shelving and furniture layout, life safety, handicapped accessibility requirements and an opinion of the cost for the proposed improvements," Bradley Garman wrote in an agreement.
The ordinance was passed as an emergency measure because the court jumped the gun and hired the engineering firm without the money being appropriated, Hitchcock said.
"We put them on hold when we found out," he added.
A plan design is not yet complete; no time frame was set.
"City hall was always in line to get upgrades and improvements," Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel said. "It was always the intent to do capital improvements to city hall."
The auditor's office and tax department recently moved from city hall to the new administration building on Main Street, which gave the court additional room on the second floor.
Celina Municipal Court began April 1 assessing a new, $7 fee on each case to help pay for future projects including courtroom renovations. The fee - in addition to all other court costs - is charged on the filing of each criminal case, civil action or proceeding and/or judgment by confession.
Earlier this year, Hazel said potential projects in the historical building could include courtroom renovations, security upgrades and structural improvements.
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