2017-05-18 / Front Page

Parking ordinance under review after friction over tickets

BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – The township Board of Trustees is facing a conundrum regarding code enforcement.

Supervisor Chris Gehringer says the township doesn’t have the resources to scour the countryside looking for ordinance violations.

“There are so many small issues,” he said.

Therefore, enforcement is complaint driven. That is, if someone complains about a neighbor parking in the street all night, for example, officers are dispatched to enforce the parking ordinance, which prohibits on-street parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. and during snow emergencies.

That exact procedure opened up a can of worms in recent weeks after a couple of residents complained that they were being singled out for selective enforcement.

“If we’re going to enforce (the parking ordinance), do it in every subdivision, not just one street,” said Trustee Tammy Kapraun. “Enforce it unilaterally.”

Kapraun was contacted by residents who received tickets for parking street-side during the early-morning hours.

She said township officials directed police officers to go to two houses on one street. There is no documentation that officers first warned residents of either home that the parked vehicles were in violation of the code, although police Chief William Tucker said warnings were issued.

“We can’t pick on two houses on one street,” said Kapraun. “Either we enforce it or we don’t. I’m not against the ordinance; I’m against selective enforcement of the ordinance.”

Gehringer said complaint-driven enforcement can get the township swept up in neighborhood feuds, and people can be “cantankerous,” but once a complaint is filed, township officials are compelled to address it.

“We have to follow up, whether we like it or not,” he said.

Clerk Dennis Milem agreed that enforcement can be a sticky wicket.

“In a complaint-driven township, you’re always going to have selective enforcement,” he said. “Always. At 2 a.m., we can’t send an officer to every neighborhood.”

Gehringer admits that “singling out one resident for punishment is not the right thing to do,” and the ordinance is “somewhat antiquated.”

For now, the township board has tossed the ball to the Planning Commission, which will review the parking ordinance and report back to the Board of Trustees.

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