Council in Minnesota to revisit truck ban after truckers speak out

| 2/13/2008

All truck drivers basically have the same philosophy when it comes to trucking: If the truck’s not moving, they aren’t making any money.

But money isn’t everything for Hutchinson, MN, trucker Jamie Marx, who lost approximately $3,000 in wages, in order to be home on Tuesday, Feb. 12, to attend a Hutchinson City Council meeting.

His financial sacrifice may ultimately benefit all truckers who live in Hutchinson because the City Council there now plans to revisit a truck parking ordinance after Marx and other truckers brought up the issue during the public comment portion of the council meeting Tuesday.

For almost an hour, Marx said he and two other Hutchinson truckers talked to the City Council about the negative financial impact the truck ordinance would have on truckers’ livelihoods.

During the meeting, the City Council agreed to put the issue of the truck parking ordinance back on their next agenda, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 26, even though they voted previously 3-1 in favor of enforcing it. The ordinance “bans tractors from parking in residential areas.” The ban also prohibits trucks weighing 9,000 pounds gross weight or more in some areas, while another provision prohibits trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more in other areas.

“The meeting went surprisingly well,” Marx told Land Line on Wednesday, Feb. 13. “I think we opened their eyes to a lot of the issues we are having in trying to make this ordinance work,” he said. “We have all tried their suggestions, and they don’t work. I tried to park somewhere else and had to pay $600 in damages because of vandalism to my truck.”

Marx said he told the City Council that two trucking companies in town have actually tried to profit from the city’s decision to enforce the ordinance, charging truckers as much as $100 to park in their lots.

Some of the options Marx and others proposed to the City Council include:

  • allowing truck drivers to apply for permits to park their bobtails in their own personal driveways (no trailers would be allowed);
  • raising the weight limit from 9,000 or 10,000 pounds gross weight to 18,000 pounds gross weight; again, no trailers would be allowed in driveways or on city streets; and
  • allowing truckers to perform basic maintenance on their trucks, such as changing brake shoes, but no major maintenance would be allowed.

What got their attention the most, Marx said, was when he and other truckers brought up the subject of the city providing a secured parking lot for Hutchinson truckers to pay to park if these other options would not work.

“I think the cost of building something like that really got their attention,” he said. “They would have to buy the land, build a fence around the lot, provide electricity, and then make sure it is secured and maintained. It would be very costly for the city to build.”

Marx told the council he even tried to rent an empty lot near his home, but was told that wouldn’t work either.

An unofficial vote of the City Council has only two members still in favor of enforcing the current ban and three against going forward with the ban, including the town’s mayor and chief of police siding with truckers, Marx said.

For now, Marx said he plans to keep up the sign in front of his truck parked in his driveway, which reads, “Parked in protest.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer