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The amendment to Oelwein’s Municipal Code adding automatic traffic enforcement (speed and red-light cameras) passed its first reading at council proceedings Monday night, but not without some opposition and discussion among city lawmakers.

The topic of speed cameras and red-light cameras has been discussed numerous times for several years among various seated councils, but without bringing the matter to a measure. The mayor and council members had requested the topic be brought forward in the form of an ordinance amendment. This amendment would allow the city to implement automatic traffic enforcement devices if decided to at a to-be-determined time in the future.

City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger explained the action is to get the amendment in the code, not necessarily enact it at this time. Once in the books, Council would still have to vote on locations, rules, and the vendor for the cameras.

“I think (speed cameras) take away from the small town feel of a community,” said Councilman Matt Weber.

Councilman Warren Fisk said Fayette has a speed camera and it doesn’t detract from their small town feeling. But Weber said he has spoken to people in the Fayette community who say otherwise.

“Oelwein has a wide area to cover. Police are never going to be able to be at all places at the right time,” Fisk said, in favor of the ordinance. He added that he recently witnessed two pickup trucks racing undetected south out of town on Sixth Avenue SW.

“I think we should look at what technology can do for us to help our police officers,” said Councilwoman Lynda Payne. She added she would much rather have officers able to respond to emergency situations than time spent writing speeding tickets.

Police Chief Jeremy Logan added there are some roads where speeding is a problem, that have no safe place for a squad car to park and run radar. He gave Outer Road as an example due to limited shoulders.

Mayor Brett DeVore said, “It’s all part of the process. This has to pass three times. I will add that it could mean at least $70,000 in revenue that could go toward roads.”

In the roll-call vote that followed the discussion, Weber and Tom Stewart voted against the measure, which passed 4-2. Two more readings at subsequent council meetings must pass before the measure becomes an ordinance added to the city code.

The Council approved a resolution adopting architectural design guidelines for the central business district. The OCAD Downtown Committee has worked on new guidelines to be followed for property owners using city funding for improvements. The guidelines are not strict, but do provide a comprehensive guide for exterior redevelopment and new construction projects, as well as maintaining the integrity of historic structures.

OCAD Director Deb Howard explained the guidelines have been in place but not utilized since the downtown streetscape project was completed in 2006. The downtown committee has revised the original Design Standards Manual and collaborated with the Planning and Zoning Commission and Council. She said it is understood that a project may not meet every guideline, but that will be taken under consideration by Planning and Zoning and the Council in looking at the larger design objectives of the downtown.

The Council approved the Lions Club request to close the city’s south parking lot from 3-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, for an outdoor Trunk-or-Treat Halloween event. This will be held instead of the annual Hoot for the Lions Halloween event traditionally taking place indoors.

In other action the Council approved payment requests from Lansing Brothers Construction ($24,900) for completion of 2020 Demolition Project, Bacon Concrete, LLC ($16,413.33) for completion on Segment 1 Trail Improvements Project, and Maguire Iron ($569,240) for completion of the West Water Tower Project.

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