Emmaus Becomes No Parking Zone for Large Trucks

Emmaus Borough Council approves ordinance banning the parking of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles on borough streets in spite of urgings by borough truck drivers to reconsider.

The handful of Emmaus residents who came to last night’s Emmaus Borough Council meeting to speak out against the “no truck parking” ordinance on the agenda were basically told to keep on truckin'.

With almost no discussion, Council approved the measure banning the parking of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles on borough streets by a 5-1 vote. Councilman Jeff Shubzda was the lone dissenter and Councilman Mike Waddell was absent.

Before voting in favor of the ordinance, Councilman Brent Labenberg took a moment to stress that the ban on truck parking was not something that council had considered lightly.

“One thing I want to say is this council cannot be accused of not debating the issue,” Labenberg said. “It is unfortunate where it is going, but that is the wish of the council and the wish of the people.”

Among those who addressed council about the truck parking ban last night were husband and wife Johnathan and Priscilla Robertson. He is a truck driver who lives in the borough and both have taken the podium about this issue at past council meetings.

Johnathan Robertson’s comments focused on what he feels to be the very small number of borough residents actually complaining about the trucks, and the costs involved with putting the ordinance into effect. He said the required signage alone was going to cost the borough $2,000, adding that that didn’t include the installation of the signs.

“If we don’t have the money to fund basic things like the fire department, how do we have the money to keep people from coming home from work?” he asked council.

Councilman Brian Holtzhafer took offense to Robertson’s remarks, telling him that he didn’t feel sorry for Robertson because of his attitude every time he came before council.

“It’s a difficult decision to make when you personally affect someone,” Holtzhafer said, “but you have never been nice or polite to me. I feel the safety of the residents is paramount at this point.

“I am sorry that I am affecting your livelihood, but I don’t think tractor-trailer trucks should be parked on the streets in the borough,” he said.

Priscilla Robertson subsequently addressed council, taking Holtzhafer to task for his treatment of her husband.

“I understand it’s a touchy issue,” she said, “but to see my husband personally attacked in a public forum is not OK. I don’t like being here. I have a 2-year-old at home and I would rather be with my baby.

“But, this is the welfare of my family. I have looked around and I don’t see the damage on the streets. I work here. I am in the community. I know a lot of people in the community. No one in the community supports this ban.

“It is very frustrating as a resident whose life is being so drastically affected that the minority is being listened too,” she said.

According to the ordinance that was passed last night, commercial vehicles, truck tractors and trailers over 26,001 pounds can no longer park on Emmaus streets. It also bans street parking of any vehicle exceeding 23 feet, 11 inches in length and 8 feet, 5 inches in width.

The new law also establishes a tiered penalty scale for those who violate the ordinance: A first offense brings a written warning, a second violation a fine of up to $50, and a third infraction could result in a fine up to $75. Each subsequent violation carries a fine up to $300.

Ronald Weaver January 08, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Could an area be found in Emmaus for truckers to park. Seems unfare to affect a persons way of making a living using the safety issue and catering to a small minority. For heavens sake find some alternative! Our Government and many people in this country have become outright insensitive and self serving.
ted.dobracki January 08, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Safety on Ridge Street where many trucks park is truely an issue, especially when combined with fast cars on the long block and the presence of children at the park. There was an incident some time ago where a pedestrain was struck and killed while crossing the street from one cemetary to the other in the middle of the long block, a bit up the hill above the bridge just west of the library on Ridge, when many vehicles were parked there during a game at the adjacent ball-fields. I believe he was carrying water that he got from a spigot at the larger side of the cemetary to the other side. Visibility, space, and speed were all probably factors in that tragedy. Trucks add to the hazards there, and in any case are not a nice presence for people visiting the cemetaries, park and neighborhood where my children's grandfather was born.
Jason Heminitz January 08, 2013 at 05:09 PM
If its such a safety hazard, then cars should not be allowed to park there. Trucks being parked on the side of the street have nothing to do with speeding vehicles. There are options for truckers but it is an unconvince and in most cases will cost them more money. I'm disappointed in the council's decision. They claimed it was causing destruction to the streets but could not provide proof. They then say it's about safety yet again fail to provide actual incidents that involved a tractor trailer being at fault or even involved.
Ronald Weaver January 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM
My suggestion would be to find place in the boro where they could park in an area agreeable to those concerned. I know it is not the legal responsibility of the boro but it would be nice even though it only involves the livelihood of a few, they are important and I am sure most can agree. I don't believe people can rightly complain, if the do complain, that it affects their feelings as they visit the cemetary. Most likely their grandfathers buried would have been more considerate when alive and would have not been concerned about the trucks, not to say this should be the proper place to be set aside for truck parking. These nonsense politically correct reasons to appease the minority is just not realistically valid, but the issue is what it is.
Barbara January 08, 2013 at 05:49 PM
While I didn't come to any of the meetings on this issue my personal feeling is that Emmaus is primarily a residential community and allowing tractor trailers and large trucks to park on these residential streets would lower not only the property values, but make the town look like an industrial truck stop. Right now we are only hearing about a few trucks, but if allowed that amount would increase and the council would have to deal with this situation again later. As a possible solutionI have noticed some fenced and unfenced space in industrial areas where there are factories that might be used to park trucks and the owners cars which would be a very short drive to their homes. This cost would be a business deduction for a business. I wish everyone peace in this situation.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 06:50 PM
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Priscilla, no one supports this ban? May I ask who you spoke to, or more importantly, how you presented or approached the issue? I had the pleasure of speaking with many residents who were approached by Emmaus resident truck operators. Each told a very similar story. These residents were asked "would you care if trucks parked on Ridge Street, near the cemetery?". Many people responded, "Not really. I don't live near there.". Interesting, when asked of those same people if they would mind if a tractor trailer directly in front of there house? The answer was a resounding, "Heck ya, I would care!". How about parked in front of your church? Child's school? Loved one's resting place? Again, "Heck ya. I would care". To the Robertsons: the vast majority of Emmaus residents do not want tractor trailers parked on a Borough street. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Patrice Sidoione All That Salon January 08, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Linen 23 I think you have made the point exactly. Certainly there has to be a place where the trucks can park that is appropreiate...A borough street or city street is not truck parking: Just isn't. I trust there will be accomedations sought to solve this temporary inconvience to the trucks at no expense would be truely a win win. It could happen...I trust it will be worked out. I am one of the residents that does not want commercial vehicles parked all around my home & business. That said I am not against finding a place where they could park their personal cars while on the trip & then swap out when they come back to go home in their personal vehicles. They could do that will lots of the commercial vehicles people have parked around & the school buses during some days...
Ronald Weaver January 08, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Barbara has a good possible solution, and a good attitude to want to help and find a workable solution. If one was a truck driver one might think differently. Who is suggesting they could park in front of someones house. Get the facts straight, not an opinion.
DontTreadOnMe January 08, 2013 at 09:06 PM
You sound like a borough official. Lots of talk with no connection to reality. It was previously legal to park trucks on the street. It is not like random truckers will be stopping by the borough. It is only the hard working people that live here that park their trucks overnight. How about you park your car across town every day when you get home and then have a friend or family member pick you up. Let me know how that works for you.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Ronald, it is a fact that tractor trailers park in front of residences, not an opinion. North 8th Street and Walnut. Harrison Street at 1st Street.
Lynn Faust January 08, 2013 at 09:18 PM
After following the TRUCK BAN issue for over five years, I was disappointed at the outcome. Over the years there were many solutions presented to council and many excuses given to the resident truckers. In the end I do not feel a compromise was ever addressed. Yes, in full disclosure my husband was a trucker. However, as an Emmaus resident my entire life, I was appalled and almost in disbelief at the way Councilman Holtzhaffer was treating some of the speakers during the Personal Appeals segment of the meeting last evening. I witnessed personal attacks as well as snickers and snide remarks. In my opinion, there was definitely no empathy displayed to some very distraught citizens. I believe Councilman Holtzhafer was not acting in a professional manner and an apology is in order. On the other hand, Councilman Labenberg and Councilman Barrett showed patience and understanding during this emotional filled debate.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 09:21 PM
The issue, Ronald, is that without the ban there is nothing stopping truckers from parking on any Borough street. It happens currently and is only getting worse.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Also, Keystone at Harrison, 100 block of Berger, 100 block of S 16th Street. 6th and Ridge Street, 500 block of Jubilee.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 09:53 PM
100 block of S 6th, 100 block of S. 7th Street, East Minor Street, West Wood Street. The aforementioned are all residential areas with homes directly affected by truck parking.
CM January 08, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I am appalled that this complaint by few was even entertained by council to this extent and I am more appalled at the councils "solution". This is NOT a solution. This is oiling the squeeky wheel. Hurt more people to shut up the few. That seems to be the new American way. Many people were not effected by the truck parking, equally as many weren't concerned about it. There was never (to my knowledge) a survey/questionair done for anyone to know exactly how many people felt for or against or felt anything either way for that matter for anyone to be able to offer statistics, therefore opinions will be offered by people who took time to talk to many to know their thoughts and feelings on the topic.
CM January 08, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Everyone I spoke to personally felt that this was ridiculous on the end of council. Extreme, over the top and should never have been considered a priority at the current time. There are MANY issues that really pose a problem for safety in this borough that would benefit everyone in the community, not just appease the few minority. I often times can't park my own CAR on my own BLOCK because the borough over the years has allowed so many apartments to be created without ever adressing the parking issue. I own my home and pay my taxes. I should be able to find somewhere on my own block to park my own damn car but instead I can't because of renters who fill their house to the over flow of people residing in it. Another REAL problem I can offer could be how close the borough allows cars(any size) to park to corners. A perfect example is N. 5th St and Main St. by the Luthern Church. That is a tradgedy waiting to happen. I promise you that one day a bad accident will happen here and/or a pedestrian will be run over at this location. And this is only ONE example. That intersection isn't the only one like it.
CM January 08, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Also, as mentioned before the cost of putting this ordinance into place and posting the streets (that will surely make the town more beautiful) and then having an officer take the time to enforce this is obsurd. I sit and read about cutting funding to the fire dept. but the borough has money for THIS! Wouldn't you all agree that a fully staffed and prepared fire dept. is more beneficial to the community as a whole? Was that poor resident who took his time to speak his thoughts and stand up for what he believes really treated that poorly by Holtzhafer!? If so, it sounds like he is practicing for a spot with the federal gov't. Council is the 'face' of the borough. Supposed to be representing 'we the people' and they are supposed to be here to work WITH us and try to find a common ground. While council members may get and take some disrespect, it is not acceptable for them to 'give' it back. You voluntarily put yourself in a public position, sometimes you have to 'take the heat' and surely you are expected to maintain professionalism. Overall this sounds eerily familiar of typical gov't....we don't care what you want and how you feel, we have the power. And on a final note I would like to say kudos to the borough for making things tougher for people when the average person is already drowning. Sincerely, Not a truck driver.
Jackie Martling January 08, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Wanna solve this...offer a bit of a tax break to places that have large parking lots that are empty over night like Weis Markets to allow overnight truck parking for these drivers. Most of thbe trucks in the borough aren't parked anywhere where they are effecting anyone. Came down to a few troublemaking whining babies that have too much time on their hand. Most of the street parkers did it in areas that didn't bother anyone. Too much time on peoples hands to worry about stupid petty things...just sayin'!!!
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 11:23 PM
It not a few as some would have you believe. Put it to a referendum. Cost, you say? The money from fines will quickly pay for the signs and enforcement. The improvement of quality of life and improvement of roadway conditions are invaluable. This ban was a no brainer.
T Edelman January 09, 2013 at 01:46 AM
That's sad to hear. I support the truck drivers. And what does " never being nice to me" have to do with the vote?
SMR76 January 09, 2013 at 02:18 AM
So buses that park out have to waste fuel that tax payers pay for. Hmmm that makes sense.
Judy Johnson January 09, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Emmaus really doesn't want blue collar residents. Lets make it more difficult for them to work . Who do you think brings all the goods that you want available to you in the stores ?
Ronald Weaver January 09, 2013 at 12:18 PM
linen23 again get the facts correct, I never stated that trucks don't park in front of a residence, nor suggested they should. I suggested to try to come up with an alternative in consideration for ones livelihood. What do you suggest they do? Seems to me the attitude is its not my problem.
Barbara January 10, 2013 at 09:45 PM
In response to DontTread, I am retired but when I worked I commuted to NY everyday. I drove to the Bieber bus station and parked my car, came home and got my car and drove home. If I can do it so can you. As I stated I didn't come to the meetings, but I don't think I would like waking up everyday and looking at my neighbors 18 wheeler when looking our of my windows. Also, since they have this issue all in the newspapers, internet, etc., how long do you think it would be befofe every trucker between here and Bethlehem would be parking in Emmaus? The only reality I see is that you must be one of those wanting to park by your house and the hell with you neighbors. One thing I have learned is that just because people don't complain doesn't mean that it doen't bother them. Sometimes it's so they can avoid con
Barbara January 10, 2013 at 09:47 PM
can avoid confrontations with people or become a victim of a mean spirited person.
Barbara January 10, 2013 at 09:49 PM
sorry for the typos. I guess I was a little upset. Don't respond to these posts often.


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