Rochester Council Helps Solve Longtime Parking Issue

By DREW HOWARD

Parking issues, wage amendments and electric bikes were just a few of the topics discussed at the latest Rochester City Council meeting on Monday, January 22.

Two Rochester residents took to public comment to discuss a parking-related issue on Elizabeth Street. Resident Julie Morris argued that parking on her side of the street should be prohibited as it’s proven to be a nuisance.

“Our rationale is it’s difficult for us to get out of our driveway when cars are backed up side to side,” Morris said on behalf of her neighbors on Elizabeth Street. “There are instances when I can’t get out of my driveway at all – people are literally blocking it.”

Morris noted her driveway has been blocked at very inconvenient times, once when she had to attend a funeral and another during an emergency involving her mother.

“In the past two weeks people have picked up my recycling bins and moved them into my driveway so they could park there, and I haven’t had any pickup,” she added. “I have a really large pile in front of my house.”

Another resident several doors down from Morris told the council that while he agreed with her claims, he was also worried about the implications a parking prohibition would have on his home.

“My son is turning 16, and I’ll be adding a third car to my driveway,” the resident said. “I don’t have a lot of room to add a third car, so where will I park?”

After much discussion, the council resolved to move parking over to the other side of the street where there are no homes.

The council also discussed whether or not electric bikes should be regulated on the Paint Creek Trail. Mayor Pro-Tem Kim Russell said electric bikes will be allowed on the trail beginning January 28, though this is subject to change once more analysis is conducted on how the bikes will affect the trail.

“For seniors and the handicapped, it doesn’t matter if we opt out as they already have the opportunity to use these bikes,” Russell said. “The only problem we see is user conflict, as we already have user conflict on the trail between bikers and walkers.”

The council approved a new pay structure for council members later in the meeting. Mayor Ray will now earn $70 per meeting, while Mayor Pro Tem earns $65 and council members $60.

It’s possible that council members will ultimately make less money under the new pay structure, though, as they’re now limited to earning pay for up to 24 meetings per year. The limit was previously 33 meetings per year.

The meeting also allowed time for Rochester Police Chief Steven Schettenhelm to pay his respects to Lt. Paul Matynka, who will be retiring from his position at the end of the January. Matynka is leaving the Rochester Police Department to work as a lieutenant with Oakland Community College.

“You’re never going to find a funnier guy than Paul,” Schettenhelm said. “He’ll certainly be missed, but I’m sure he’ll be available for a consult and a good joke from time to time by any means.”

The next Rochester City Council meeting will take place on Monday, February 5, 2018. You can watch this week’s meeting online under the “City Webcast” section at www.ci.rochester.mi.us.