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City considering return of weigh station

By Staff | May 6, 2009

At the suggestion of a member of the audience attending the City Council meeting on Tuesday, local leaders are currently engaged in a discussion regarding bringing back a weigh station in order to generate revenue for the island.

During the public comments portion of the session, resident Karen Storjohann asked councilors to consider bringing back a weigh station. Until late in 2007, a weigh station had been located on Island B of the causeway. According to Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane, that station brought in as much as $800,000 annually during its peak period in the first few years of the 21st century.

“This has been brought up before,” said Mayor Mick Denham, “but it’s up to my fellow councilmen to show an interest in bringing that idea back.”

Since the weigh station was disassembled and removed prior to the refurbished causeway opened in September 2007, residents have complained about the increased commercial vehicle traffic and loss of revenue generated by the station, which had been put towards the maintenance of roadways on the island. However, the largest issue of where to construct a similar one on Sanibel in the past have brought talks about a replacement station to a halt.

“This consideration of a weigh station is critical because the revenue we used to have will never return to the levels we have seen in the past,” said councilman Peter Pappas.

Fellow councilor Jim Jennings noted that there have been advances in technology that may require a smaller area where a weigh station could be added on the island. He suggested that electronic devices used by similar stations can be embedded underground, resulting is less bulky structures.

Another issue brought up on Tuesday was safety, with Denham suggesting that the city consult with Chief of Police Bill Tomlinson regarding the matter.

“It isn’t just the safety factor,” added resident Claudia Burns. “It’s the wear and tear on our roads, with these big, big trucks trying to make a turn.”

After some additional discussion, the council asked that the issue be added to the agenda of their June 2 meeting.

“It’s a multi-dimensional issue, but I think it can be brought back (for discussion),” said Denham.

In other business, councils voted 4-1 – with Jennings dissenting – to adopt an ordinance adjusting the city’s beach parking fees.

The ordinance allows residents (Full-time and part-time) and/or Sanibel ad valorem taxpayer property owners as well as full-time, part-time and retired City of Sanibel employees to purchase “A” decals for $12 annually. Non-residents and non-Sanibel ad valorem taxpayer property owners can purchase “B” decals for $90 per year. Restricted parking permits (“C” decals) will continue to be priced at $90 annually.

Jennings cast his vote against adopting the ordinance because he believed the council “moved too fast” in modifying the fee schedule.

Also, a resolution was passed to establish a time and date for a public hearing discussing the Junonia Street Paving Project Assessment District. During the hearing, set to take place the City Council meeting on July 21 at 9:15 a.m., a discussion involving of how the project will be funded and how much money affected residents will be assessed will be brought forth.

Councilors also agreed to adopt a rotation schedule for attending the next five Planning Commission meetings. In the past, a single councilman handled liaison duties on a yearly basis.

According to the new schedule, Denham will attend the May 26 planners session, followed by Pappas (June 9), Jennings (July 14), Marty Harrity (Aug. 11) and Ruane (Sept. 8).