Chewelah City Council Reverses Decision to Increase Speed Limit

 Citizens complaints prompted the Chewelah City Council to reverse its decision to change the speed limit sign at Flowery Trail Road during the July 18 council meeting.

Councilwoman Krisan LeHew made the motion to change the speed limit of Flowery Trail Road, between Ehorn Lane and Cottonwood Creek Road, back to 25 miles per hour after several area residents voiced concerns. At the July 5 meeting, the council had voted 5-2 to raise the speed limit to 35 miles per hour after a proposal by Councilman John May.

City residents Frank Long, John Trampush, and Peter Roesler were critical of the council’s previous decision to increase the speed limit. Long and Trampush live on the affected stretch of road. Roesler lives nearby.

Long noted several safety concerns in the area including a bus stop, children walking on the road, and families using the shoulder with baby strollers. He also claimed that the council ignored a May 16 letter submitted by him to city officials. The letter, signed by all the property owners in the affected area, urged the council to not raise the speed limit.

“We live in the affected area and strongly oppose any increase to the 25MPH limit. This is a residential area which has been plagued by speeders who routinely go from 10 to 40MPH over the speed limit. Any increase to the speed limit would only encourage faster speeds and further increase the risks to our families and property,” the letter stated, in part.

Councilwoman Carra Nupp indicated that three of the councilmembers had not received a copy of the original letter and suggested that the previous proposal to raise the limit may have been rejected had all councilmembers received the same information.

The motion to change the speed limit back to 25 mph was passed by a vote of 5-2. Councilmen John May and Nick Lasko opposed the change.

In other business, council received a written request from the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce asking for $5,000 of hotel/motel tax funds in 2013. The Chamber uses the funds to help promote tourism in Chewelah. The Chamber received $6,000 in 2011 and $4,000 in 2012. The request was referred to the Finance Committee for review at their August 23 meeting.

Andi Trudeau, owner of the Nordlig Motel in Chewelah, urged the council to approve the request. She noted that the Chamber has continued to move in a positive direction and works hard to improve and promote the city.

Councilwoman Sharon Ludwig, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported that no bids were received for the property located at 306 E. Main Ave. before the due date of July 3. The property was recently declared as surplus and a minimum bid had been set at $90,000.

Ludwig made a motion to list the property for sale with a real estate agent at a price of approximately $95,000. The value was recommended by Windermere Chewelah.

The motion passed by a vote of 4-3. Councilmen Dave Haskell, May, and Lasko opposed the action.

Councilman May noted that current market conditions were unfavorable for the sale of the property. Lasko said that he would prefer that the city keep the property and continue to collect the rental income which is currently set at $400 per month. The building houses Dr. Steve Weatherman’s chiropractic office.

City Administrator Mike Frizzell reported that his office has been dealing with many issues surrounding the airport and Richmond Lane. Concerns had been raised about the ownership and maintenance of Richmond Lane as well as the liability issues involved with its use as an airplane taxiway. He said that a recent upgrade of the City’s airport insurance will now cover liability on adjacent roadways, including Richmond Lane. He recommended that the property owners on that street establish a homeowner’s association and purchase a separate insurance policy to cover their liability.

Frizzell also said that his office is working to expand the city’s OHV policy to allow the use of golf carts on city streets.

In new business, council voted to approve a Interlocal Joint Purchasing Agreement with the City of Tacoma to utilize each other’s procurement agreements when it is in their mutual interest. The purpose of the agreement is to allow Chewelah to “piggy back” on favorable equipment pricing bids that Tacoma may receive from suppliers. Specifically, the City is interested in purchasing a replacement garbage truck through the agreement. Haskell abstained his vote.

Council voted unanimously to approve the employment agreement with CA Frizzell.

An extension of agreement was also approved with E&H Engineering, Inc. The original agreement expired April 2, 2011. The new agreement extends the same terms and conditions through April 2, 2013. The engineering firm has been working with the city on the Grant Avenue bridge project at Chewelah Creek.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

By Jared Arnold

The Independent Staff