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The Telegram
  • Utica littered with unapproved parking, speed postings

  • Police Chief Mark Williams said the likely explanation for all the unapproved signs is over the years, politicians reached out to the city's sign shop on the behalf of residents and never followed through by sponsoring legislation.
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    • SIGNS AT A GLANCE
      • In recent weeks, the city discovered that a number of signs in the city do not have legislation authorizing them.
      • Only the Common Council can authorize changes to speed zones or par...
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      SIGNS AT A GLANCE
      • In recent weeks, the city discovered that a number of signs in the city do not have legislation authorizing them.
      • Only the Common Council can authorize changes to speed zones or parking, but city officials believe over the years, politicians have had the signs put up as favors and neglected to sponsor legislation to authorize them.
      • The council has passed several pieces of legislation retroactively approving parking and speed signs, including a 25 mph zone on Proctor Boulevard.
      • In the spring, the city will start a sign inventory study to find out how many signs have legislation backing them up.
  • Every street in the city has different parking rules. Some allow parking for an hour; others force drivers to park on one side only.
    But not all of those signs are supposed to be there.
    Ordinances requesting parking or speed-limit changes aren't beyond the norm. In fact, that type of legislation is what the Common Council is supposed to do.
    But at least twice in the past few months, the council has had to give retroactive approval for parking or speed limits on city streets.
    According to the city charter, there are three ways parking signs can appear: at the directive of the public safety commissioner, police chief or Common Council.
    When the police chief or public safety commissioner requests a sign, though, it is meant to be a temporary measure to study the effect the sign has on traffic in the area.
    If the police department's traffic division finds that there aren't any issues, legislation is supposed to go to the council for permanent approval.
    That's where the city runs into a problem.
    No one is sure how many signs have been erected without supporting legislation.
    Police Chief Mark Williams said the likely explanation for all the unapproved signs is over the years, politicians reached out to the city's sign shop on the behalf of residents and never followed through by sponsoring legislation.
    "How it got like this is beyond me," he said. "The city is littered with them."
    During a recent council meeting, Williams shared the story of a woman who received a handicapped on-street parking space years ago.
    That woman no longer lives there, but the resident who does doesn't want the city to remove the sign because it prevents people from parking in front of her house.
    There are legal implications as well.
    In an email to City Clerk Joan Brenon submitting proposed legislation to support a 25 mph speed limit along Proctor Boulevard, Williams said that if one of his officers tickets a driver for speeding along the road, the ticket might not stick.
    "Currently, the speed signs along that street do not have the necessary city legislation in place to be valid," he wrote. "Without the approved legislation in place, we would not be able to properly (enforce) the law."
    Councilman Joseph Marino, D-4, said the city should undertake a usage study to look at whether all these signs are necessary.
    "Not to make too big of a deal about it, but I find them a little offensive visually," he said.
    At $38 each, if the city can remove 1,000 signs — that's $38,000 it doesn't have to spend to replace them, Marino said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The city is planning a sign inventory this spring, working with college interns to figure out how many signs it has and whether all of them are backed up by legislation.
    Mayor Robert Palmieri, who served as the public safety commissioner under former Mayor David Roefaro, said he had never requested a sign, and the point of going through the police traffic division was to prevent political favors.
    "It takes the political element out of it," he said.
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