City Council Considers Options for Stopped Trains

On Monday evening, the Lawrenceburg City Council held a special work session to discuss various topics.  One of the main topics of the night was about the ongoing problem with trains blocking multiple roads through the city for long periods of time.  City Clerk, Robbie Hume, explained that there is currently an ordinance in place to limit stopped trains on the crossings, but the ordinance is currently out of date compared to state and possibly federal regulations.

“Essentially, under the new state regulations, the railroad cannot block the intersections on any of the city streets for a period of more than 5 minutes at any time unless such stopping or standing is from circumstances beyond the control of the railroad,” Robbie said.  He went on by saying that the current ordinance is for 15 minutes.

However, even with an updated ordinance, the city could not require anything from the railroad if the train is moving, no matter how slowly.  City attorney, Robert Myles explained, “We are very limited what we can and cannot do in regards to the railroad.”  However, he did indicate that it is legal currently under state law for the city to fine the railroad for excessively long stops.

There were concerns amongst the council about how the railroad would react if they were to start enforcing a stronger ordinance.  Since the ordinance could only apply to stopped trains, they feared possible backlash from the railroad where they would slow the trains down further.

But, council member Vaughn made a strong argument to continue looking into this problem.  He talked of a situation from the past where he was stuck on one side of a crossing with a stopped train blocking the road.  He got a call from police officers needing backup, but he couldn’t get passed the train in time, despite the call originating from a store just a 100 yards away.  Although in the end, he wasn’t needed, but the possibility of the problem still exists.  He also gave various other examples of dangerous situations that the stopped trains cause.

He then proposed to strike up a conversation with the state department of transportation to continue looking for ideas on how to address the problem.  The council and mayor then decided to send the discussion back to the public safety committee.

The work session also covered a new proposed structure for the city occupational/business license structure.  According to city clerk, Robbie Hume, the current business license is based on the type of business and is considerably complex.  He also noted a number of complaints from business owners about its unfairness.

After the last time the city attempted to change the business license system to a percentage of revenue from businesses five years ago, which failed to pass, Robbie decided to see how they could come up with a better plan.  When helping the county with changing their license system from the county clerk’s office to the sheriff’s office, the city learned of the more streamlined system of the county which is based on the number of employees.

During this time, Robbie has worked on creating a similar plan to restructure the city license system.  It would be based off of a tiered structure on the number of employees that a particular business has.  He also talked about a possible idea of working with the county to create a combined business license system so one license would cover both.  He said that he will continue to work on the plan, which would focus on fee rates that would bring the same amount of revenue as the current license system, and possibly present the council with an official ordinance at a later time.

The work session also included a presentation from Gregory Copley from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research.  The presentation was about an energy audit that was taken earlier for all of the city’s facilities.  Two plans were given to the council to look at which would help save the city energy costs.  The council decided to look through the proposals before making any decisions.

Finally, there were discussions about various issues with snow removal.  Mayor Goodlett said that the city workers were very appreciative of the size of the new trucks that the city bought after they lost their trucks last year due to a fire at the city maintenance building.  With smaller trucks, more employees could drive the trucks as they don’t need a CDL.  The snow blades are also smaller, making a better fit for city streets.  Mayor Goodlett said that the city is better prepared.

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Posted in Business & Government.

One Comment

  1. Our small community has the same train issues as you! Trains are stopping on the track crossing 15-30 minutes! Many are crawling across. Ordinance does not seem to be a help! I will be watching to see your actions!

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