Truck parking ordinance outrages Hutchinson, MN, truckers

| 2/1/2008

A local ordinance banning trucks from parking in residential areas has been on the books in Hutchinson, MN, for at least 15 years. However, just recently, the City Council voted to start enforcing the ban.

Hutchinson City Administrator Gary Plotz said the City Council voted 3-1 on Tuesday, Jan. 15, to start enforcing the existing truck parking ordinance, which “bans tractors from parking in residential areas.” Hutchinson Mayor Steve Cook was the only one who voted against enforcing the existing truck parking ordinance.

The ordinance states that commercial vehicles are not allowed to stop in a residential area unless they are making a delivery. Another provision in the city’s truck parking ordinance bans trucks weighing 9,000 pounds gross weight or more from parking in some areas, while another provision bans trucks weighing 10,000 pounds gross weight or more.

Any solutions?
Hutchinson is in the northern tier where truckers are faced with diesel gelling and other cold-weather problems six months out of 12, so its truck parking ban is particularly problematic. Plotz said he doesn’t know of any place in the city that has places for truckers to plug in when the weather gets cold. He said Hutchinson used to have the 7 West Truck Stop, but it closed down two years ago. The city of Minneapolis and its parking options are more than 60 miles away.

Before the City Council’s decision to enforce the ordinance, enforcement had mainly been on a complaint-only, don’t ask, don’t tell, basis. Questions on the ordinance surfaced again a couple of months ago when a trucker asked about getting a permit to park his truck in his driveway, which led to the City Council’s decision to revisit the truck parking ordinance.

In recent weeks, truckers have been expressing their outrage about the city’s decision to enforce the truck parking ban by writing Letters to the Editor to the Hutchinson Leader.

“I hope nobody gets too mad when a store, restaurant or even the hospital runs out of something you want or need. Maybe the trucker that has the product couldn’t get his truck started due to Minnesota weather because he had to park where his truck didn’t look like it was a nuisance, and was also trying to save money when fuel at times is $3.70 a gallon,” wrote Hutchinson trucker Jim McCarthy in a letter to the Hutchinson Leader.

Another Hutchinson trucker, Jamie Marx, wrote, “This ordinance is just a trouble-causing deal because it is too broad and lacks the scope of what should be done.” He later wrote, “All I want to do is run my business as I have been doing, and park at my house every once in a while without being harassed.”

Plotz said he knew of only one complaint to the city about a truck idling because it didn’t have a place to plug in.

The Hutchinson City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Although the truck parking ordinance isn’t scheduled to be talked about at the City Council’s next meeting, Plotz said, there is always a public comment time allotted at the beginning of each meeting for those wanting to discuss city business.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer