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Posted on Dec 23, 2014

City passes 3 new laws

The Quincy City Council has pushed three new city laws that address bike helmets, four-wheelers and nuisance properties.

The laws were passed at last week’s city council meeting. They are:

Bike helmets: About a year ago, the city council started discussions about what kind of penalties, if any, should be enforced for children who do not wear helmets while riding their bikes. Or whether the city needed a bike helmet ordinance.

The ordinance passed last week makes it mandatory for children riding on city streets, or riding in a bike seat, to wear a helmet; however, it is focused on educating offenders who are stopped by police officers.

“We have stripped out the penalties,” said police Chief Bob Heimbach.

A first offense means the child will be counseled by the officer about the benefits of wearing a helmet. If a child doesn’t have a helmet, officers may give him one. A second violation requires that within a year the child and a guardian attend a bike safety class by the city.

ATVs on city roads: The city will allow all-terrain vehicles on public streets if they are street legal. An off-road vehicle is any motorized vehicle used for recreational purposes on non-highway roads, trails or natural terrain.

The new law allows for someone with a valid driver’s license to operate an ATV upon a city street at a speed limit of 35 miles an hour or less. The ATVs cannot be operated on Highways 28 or 281; however, drivers can cross the highways at a controlled intersection if crossing begins and ends on a city street with a speed limit of 35 miles an hour or less.

Along with being street legal, drivers must wear a helmet and seat belt and the vehicle must have roll bars. Drivers cannot carry another person on the vehicle unless it is designed to carry two people, according to the law.
A $250 fine may be imposed for drivers not obeying the law.

The new law does not mean ATVs will be a “normal mode of transportation” in Quincy, Heimbach said. The new law was requested by a business in town so that it could cross city streets to get from one property to the next, he explained.

Chronic nuisance properties: This law allows the city to step in and abate or remediate a property that is causing chronic problems for a neighborhood. A nuisance activity includes a variety of activities or behaviors, including drug-related activities, gambling, engaging in prostitution or trafficking in stolen goods.

The city, in particular, has been having chronic nuisance problems with rental properties, Heimbach said. This ordinance allows the city to require the property owner to take care of the problem, he said.

“It’s a good tool for us to have,” Heimbach said.

If the city determines upon evidence that the property is a chronic nuisance property, it then will issue an order identifying the conditions and its requirements for abatement. If a property causes or appears to cause an imminent or immediate danger to the health or safety of the person living there, the city itself can abate the property, with the landowner charged for the costs of enforcement.

And, if the property owner does not, they will be guilty of a misdemeanor.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,

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