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.