By Tom Larson
The City of Morris will not back off its policy of ticketing and towing any vehicles that park on streets during a city-issued Snow Alert.
The Morris City Council addressed the issue at its Tuesday meeting because of concerns of towing companies, which are taking heat from some residents who have had vehicles towed from seemingly clear streets.
The city issues Snow Alerts when snow fall amounts warrant the need for plowing. Each issued Snow Alert stands for 24 hours, although an alert can be cancelled earlier or extended by the city notifying media outlets and posting the information on the city's Web site.
The ticket and towing charge is about $90, and towing company operators and Chief of Police Jim Beauregard said they've heard complaints from residents who've moved cars back on the streets after plows seemingly have cleared the roadway.
But that's often an incorrect perception, said Public Works Director Jim Dittbenner, and it's why the city's policy stipulates the 24-hour no-parking time frame.
While a street may look completely cleared, crews sometimes make an additional pass to remove snow from boulevards or attempt to throw the snow further off the roadway, Dittbenner said.
Having vehicles obstructing the roadways costs money and manpower by forcing city crews to come back to locations to complete work, he said.
"It gives us an opportunity to clean things up," Dittbenner said. "A Snow Alert is black and white: When there's a Snow Alert, you can't part on the street. It can't be any more plain than that."
The city adopted its current policy because other snow-related parking regulations proved cumbersome or ineffective, such as only ticketing vehicles.
"You have to draw a line," Mayor Sheldon Giese said. "Look, that's the way it is."
The city towed 48 cars during the season's first Snow Alert earlier this month, and 38 cars during a second alert last week. A Snow Alert called for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning was cancelled Thursday afternoon, and the city reported that no cars were towed during the overnight hours.
Council members and towing company drivers said they believe the city crews are doing an excellent job plowing streets under the current policy.
"I think we're doing it right," City Council member Bill Storck said. "We're not backing up."
For more city news, see the Saturday, Dec. 27 Sun Tribune and this Web site.