Debate occurs again on rumble strips

Benton County Courthouse

County waits for action by state legislature on bill; chairman wants to stick by original decision

VINTON – An update was heard by the Benton County Board of Supervisors on proposed legislation that would call for rumble strips on all county roads that intersect with state highway. The board previously voted, 2-1, to go ahead with the rumble strips and other measures.

The meeting was held March 10 at the courthouse in Vinton.

An accident last year at an intersection south of Van Horne with Highway 30 prompted the legislation.

Benton County Engineer Myron Parizek talked with transportation officials, and a big concern was the noise created by rumble strips for nearby residences and businesses.

Supervisor Chairman Richard Primmer, by speakerphone, said the board had voted 2-1 to make sure lighting went up and rumble strips went in at that intersection. They also unanimously backed the bill. “I’m a little concerned about back tracking,” Primmer said. He said he’d hate to have somebody injured or killed at the intersection, from either direction, simply because they did not get rumble strips put in.

Primmer favored going forth and making sure it was OK with the Department of Transportation. Parizek pointed out the DOT has jurisdiction over the stop sign and lights. In some cases, where the DOT has placed lights with county road intersections, the DOT installs the light, but the county becomes responsible for keeping the light operational. Rumble strips, stop ahead signs and lights and flags on the sign are up to the county.

Primmer said they made a decision to go with all of the above. There are rumble strips in other locations next to residences. He stressed, “I personally don’t have a problem sticking with my guns,” regarding the rumble strips and other measures at the intersection. He wants the county to see this through.

Parizek pointed out Watkins is the only intersection along Highway 30 with rumble strips.

Supervisor Tracy Seeman suggested the board to wait to see if the bill goes through. Bierschenk suggested the county do all they can with the signs, and wait until legislation to install rumble strips.

Primmer pointed out this was contrary to what Bierschenk had voted for in approving the rumble strips. Primmer asked if Bierschenk was changing his mind.

Bierschenk replied it’s important to get the lighting done as soon as possible.

Primmer was concerned about opening the county up to a lawsuit after the board changes its mind on rumble strips, and something happens at the intersection. The county’s direction was for this particular location, both northbound and southbound. “I’m not changing my mind. We gave Myron direction and that’s kind of where I’m at,” Primmer said. The board voted to do this, whether the legislature backs this or not, he stressed.

Bierschenk stressed he’d like to see what the state is going to do. “I think this has been discussed enough today, and we can move forward whenever the time comes,” he observed. No action was taken.

Land use

A land use change was tabled for Zach Ellis for land in Section 3, Benton Township. Ellis plans to use the land for a new building on his parcel, where he will move his business. He manufactures corrugated boxes. The business is currently based in Vinton. Neighbors Richard and Joyce Wyckoff had concerns about the protection of agricultural land, as described in Benton County’s land use ordinance. They were concerned with safety, increased traffic, the curve on the road, and oak trees in the Wyckoff’s ditch for safety reasons. Joyce Wyckoff said the road already has traffic, creating dust control problems which they try to address with oil. She said they are always concerned about any land being taken out of agriculture. She said farm ground and agricultural land needs to be protected.

Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee stressed there is control on what can be done with the building. If the land is sold, there is a compliance permit that has to be approved.

Letters were also read from nearby residences, also with concerns on noise, traffic, safety, expansion of the facility and deterioration of the gravel road. They were concerned about non-agricultural pressure on the rural area, feeling development should be done in industrial areas, and the precedence this sets.

Primmer emphasized this business is low-impact.

Seeman said he’d like to check on concerns about the driveway before making a decision. Primmer responded the driveway had already met the criteria of secondary roads. Greenlee presented the driveway report on policy requirements. The department will widen the driveway.

Supervisor Gary Bierschenk agreed with Seeman in that he’d like to see the driveway himself. The supervisors’ wish is that want business, but they want to see that it’s done in a safe manner. The board then approved tabling the matter to March 17 at 9:05 a.m.

Other business

Matt Boggess, Vinton Parks and Recreation Department, talked to the board about use of the courthouse lawn and using county right of way for a bike and walking trial. The lawn use is for Party in the Park and the Halloween Carnival, which was approved. As for the trail, a portion of it sits on county property. They plan to start this next fiscal year. County Engineer Myron Parizek will look at the route to look for field concerns and questions. No action was taken.

The board approved a $2,000 gift from the Locals Sales and Services Tax (LOSST) for a new truck for the Cedar/Mount Auburn Fire Department. The county pays for 10 percent of the cost for fire trucks when requested.

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