Schoolcraft village hears speeding complaints

With one police officer on duty at a time, Schoolcraft isn’t able to enforce traffic rules as much as residents might like, Village Manager Cheri Lutz said at the Council’s September meeting.

She responded to Kim and Mark Parker, owners of Marks Sales and Service, who complained about speeding in front of their business on US-131. “I see it here every day,” said Kim Parker. The village police “are not enforcing it. It didn’t used to be like this.”

“We do the best we can with the resources we have,” said Lutz. “We have some of the same problems as larger cities, like drug addiction and domestic violence, that take precedence. All of these require court dates and administrative time” which takes away from the village’s ability to enforce speed limits.

Village police wrote 33 citations on 52 traffic stops in August, according to a report from Police Chief Scott Boling. The department answered calls for 101 complaints, six traffic accidents, and 17 ordinance violations. The report is provided to the council every month and includes details of each incident.

Lutz said that the village is applying for a grant to put up a flashing speed sign to display to drivers their current speed compared to the speed limit. The hope is that making drivers aware of their speed will improve compliance.

In other business, the council had a first reading of two proposed ordinances in the village.

The first would regulate how addresses are displayed on buildings, which the council deemed necessary to ensure that first responders are able to identify buildings quickly.

The second would regulate use of the village’s right of way, which is generally 33 feet on either side of the center of a road. The regulations limit the width of driveways and restrict parking along most roads in the village.

These restrictions are meant to improve traffic safety and allow access to municipal utilities in emergency situations.

Village staff proposed a new process for enforcing the code of ordinances which will start with an informal conversation with a property owner who is not in compliance. If the violation is not corrected, the village will start the formal procedure of enforcing the ordinance, which may include fines.

The village president praised the new process, stating “This is a nice approach to a big ordinance change, and I think we’ll get good compliance.”

The council set trick or treating for Halloween, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 31.

The village will bring back a holiday gift card program from 2020, where the village matches gift card purchases to local merchants. Staff may seek sponsors to augment the $1,500 set aside from the Downtown Development Authority promotions budget for the 2021 holiday season.

Visitors to the September 20 meeting asked why the village has such a hard time recruiting volunteers for open positions, particularly the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Commission. The village manager explained that the volunteers must be village residents by state law, and few people have come forward despite several calls for volunteers.

“There just isn’t fresh blood – people willing to step up and serve,” said council president Keith Gunnett.

“I think some people don’t care for politics,” added council member Mike Ruchholz. “It doesn’t have to be local politics; it’s local service.”

Anyone interested in serving on village committees may contact the Village Manager Lutz.

Correction: in the August issue, village council member Kathy Mastenbrook was quoted as being disappointed in the village finance director. Mastenbrook was referring to the finance director of the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority.

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