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The initiative to eliminate the operation of riding lawn mowers on city streets when it’s dark took a step forward last Thursday night.

An ordinance modification that was suggested by South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer ultimately received unanimous approval to be read for voting approval at the next meeting of the Seymour Board of Aldermen on Thursday, July 8.

Wehmer’s proposed ordinance change falls under Section 210.720 of the city codes under “Loud and Unusual Noises,” as he suggested adding an 11th provision under acts that are declared to be loud and unusual noises.

His 11th provision reads, “Power lawn mowers, weed eaters and leaf blowers when operated on city streets from sunset to sunrise.”

However, the decision to approve Wehmer’s addition to the ordinance didn’t come without debate.

Originally, Wehmer wanted lawn mowers banned from any operation between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Dan, that just doesn’t work for me,” North Ward Alderman  Darrel “Bub” Wallace said. “We’re experiencing the longest days of the year right now, and there are people who will be mowing at 8:15 p.m., and there’s still 30 minutes of daylight left. The same thing goes in the mornings. It’s hot during the summer, and there will be people who get up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning and want to mow, but your changes won’t allow that.”

“Okay, then let’s change the hours to between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Wehmer responded. “Does that cover it?”

“Not really,” Wallace said.

“I’m not so keen on telling people when they can mow their yards.”

“That’s not the point of this, Bub,” Wehmer said. “What I’m trying to eliminate are people running their mowers up and down our (city) streets when it’s dark. There’s absolutely no point in it. Besides that, it’s dangerous.”

“I agree with you on that,” Wallace said. “Let’s just have your changes say that. Instead of just saying no operation of mowers, have it say no operation of mowers on our streets.”

“I’m totally fine with that,” he responded.

North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley said he didn’t like the suggested hours.

“I think putting hours on this is tricky,” Ashley noted.

“I’m a lot more comfortable saying it a different way. I agree with your point. You don’t want people driving their lawn mowers on city streets when it’s dark.”

Beth Porter, president of the Seymour Community Library’s board of directors, was present at Thursday’s meeting and suggested from the crowd that Wehmer’s amendment to the ordinance say the hours be between sunset and sunrise.

“I can live with that,” Ashley said.

Wallace agreed.

“That’s perfect,” Wehmer said. “If we make these changes to it, are all of you in favor of moving forward so we can get this on the July 8 agenda?”

All three of the other aldermen, including South Ward

Alderman Nadine Crisp, said yes. In a vote that followed, Wehmer’s ordinance changes were approved for an official reading at the July 8 meeting.

If changes to Section 210.720 are approved at the next city meeting, anyone who violates city law by driving a lawn mower on Seymour’s streets between sunset and sunrise will be subject to a city citation and fine.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting regarding changes to city ordinances, Ordinance No. 793 was passed in a 4-0 vote, which establishes new rules on abandoned and vacant property in the city under Section 525 of the city codes.

The issue was discussed by city officials at the June 10 meeting of the aldermen.

Only one city resident, Larry McAnally, had questions for the aldermen about the new law.

Wallace responded on behalf of the city, explaining to McAnally that the impetus for the ordinance was out-of-area speculators who often buy buildings and homes in the city, then let them slowly deteriorate.

“This law change is intended in large part to simply allow us (the city) to establish contact with them,” Wallace said.

After about 15 minutes of discussion, McAnally said he understood the city’s position on the issue.

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