By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
Drivers will no longer be able to legally make a “J” turn in the city shortly after the new year starts.
Members of Willard City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance on its final reading prohibiting drivers from turning left into a diagonal parking space with a change. The penalty for repeated offenses will not escalate but remain as minor misdemeanors.
Originally, the ordinance came before city council in November and calling for escalating penalties. The first offense would be a minor misdemeanor, the second offense within a year would move up to a fourth degree misdemeanor and any offense after that would be a third degree misdemeanor. A possible jail term is included in sentencing for a third or fourth misdemeanor, something council member Josh Gerber said he would not support.
“I just thought that was awfully excessive for somebody just turning into a parking spot,” he said during first reading of the ordinance. “My recommendation if you want to move forward with it is it would just be a minor misdemeanor no matter how many times.”
Council members did not make any changes to the proposed legislation at that time. When it came up for its final reading on Dec. 3, council member Diana Olson expressed some concerns over the escalating penalties, as well.
“I have had several phone calls about this particular ordinance,” she said. “They’re concerned about the second offense and moving forward.”
Olson asked about making an amendment to the proposed ordinance.
“I said at the last meeting I would support it if we amended it to leave it as a minor misdemeanor," Gerber noted.
The vote on the amended ordinance was unanimously approved by members of city council. It will go into effect 30 days after passage with the penalties remaining as minor misdemeanors.