Cloverdale council revisits Stardust speed limit issue
CLOVERDALE -- After addressing a change to the speed limit in the Stardust Hills subdivision attracted controversy last month, the Cloverdale Town Council has a compromise on the table. However, it will continue to consider the move’s efficacy and costs.
One item in a full agenda during the council’s regular session Tuesday evening, the prospect of reducing the speed limit in Stardust Hills from 30 mph to 20 mph brought in input from town officials. This seemed to change the tone of disagreements between residents, which were evident at last month’s session.
Town Marshal Steve Hibler made it a point in his monthly report on how the Cloverdale Police Department looks at enforcing speed limits throughout Cloverdale. He would also concur with a consistent theme that Stardust Hills is an environment which needs different considerations.
“The law is black and white when it comes to speed limits,” Hibler said. “But we have to enforce it in a gray manner, because we all know that we don’t follow it exactly.”
Hibler stated shortly that people will still drive 31 mph in a 30 mph zone. He also provided that enforcing speed limits are dependent on factors outside of the written law, such as weather conditions and driving behavior. For Hibler, 20 mph is “pretty fast” in different scenarios, and that is why police must adjust how they enforce that speed limit.
Hibler stated that he was not opposed to lowering the speed limit in Stardust Hills, instead concluding that the safety of all children and residents was the focus of the police department. He also iterated that CPD pulls little revenue from tickets which are issued.
Town Manager Wayne Galloway stated the council would have to undertake a traffic study if it decided to lower the speed limit to 20 mph, backed up by Chapter 5 of the Indiana Code. However, no study would be required if it was lowered to 25 mph.
However, Galloway also brought up the potential cost of replacing speed limit signs, though it is possible that a single sign may be posted at the entrance to Stardust Hills instead.
Stardust Hills developer Don Gedert declared that the area was being “sectioned out” by town officials, adding the simple argument that Stardust Hills is not a school zone. Gedert acquiesced that the subdivision was designed to have curvy roads, but that this was to maximize property use.
At-large member Greg Jay, who proposed the change last month, pushed back that Stardust Hills needed scrutiny due to the lack of sidewalks and lighting, as well as it being a heavy residential area. Former Council President Coweta Patton added from the audience that the council was there “distinguishing the situation, and not the fact that it is Stardust Hills.”
One important element of the consideration is that the town procedurally has the jurisdiction to change the speed limit as it deems necessary, as the roads in Stardust Hills are public rights-of-way.
Jay opined that the traffic study would be worth the effort, but implied he was open to lowering the speed limit to 25 mph at this juncture. With a request to get an estimate to replace the current signs in Stardust Hills, the council tabled the decision.
In another debated issue, Jay also proposed that council members consider instating a fee for inspections of rental homes in the town. Specifically, Jay said that such a fee would provide an incentive for landlords to maintain their properties.
Jay believed this fee could help prevent a neighbor’s property value from going down due to a neglected home being next to it. The point would be for a landlord to take responsibility for their rentals, and not force renters to stay in those homes.
Gedert, who himself owns several properties in Cloverdale, stated that he wanted to be more involved in this consideration as a homeowner. He also implied that the fee could be used to punish landlords, to which Jay responded that there is little renters can do to improve the home without permission.
As to the frequency of these inspections, Jay said that one could take place before a renter moves into a home, with one then perhaps taking place every three-to-five years. However, he added that this would need to be worked out as discussions continue. With that, the council tabled the measure.
In other business, the council approved Ordinance 2019-2, which provides that the town should have the right to demand attorney fees in a legal proceeding. The town also approved an accompanying request by Town Attorney Daniel Hofmann to employ attorney James Holder to handle such proceedings in a limited capacity, should he ever be unavailable.
The council also approved for Ordinance 2018-5 to be amended so that Logan Clark could be promoted to sergeant. Marshal Hibler stated during his report that Clark had excelled as a deputy marshal, and thus deserved the promotion for his time and professionalism.
The next regular meeting of the Cloverdale Town Council is scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Town Hall.