By Dan Moffett
Briny Breezes Town Council members have put the brakes on passing an ordinance to restrict truck traffic after hearing concerns about safety from their police chief.
Hal Hutchins, Ocean Ridge police chief and the town marshal, told the council that too many restricted streets can have the unintended consequence of forcing trucks into risky situations.
“I am concerned with the enforceability of this ordinance,” Hutchins said, telling council members that the final draft of the proposed law went further than the proposals discussed by the town’s Planning and Zoning Board.
“I think we have to be reasonable in where we place restrictions on roadways and not dead-end people and cause them to have to violate an ordinance in order to try and get out of the area,” Hutchins told the council during its March 24 meeting.
The chief said if the town forces large trucks off too many streets, then drivers might have no choice but to back up or make dangerous turns trying to get through Briny Breezes. That’s not what the town wants, Hutchins said, and he told the council that proposed restrictions to Briny Breezes Boulevard could be particularly problematic.
Council members originally focused on restricting truck traffic on Old Ocean Boulevard because the town was receiving legal transfer of the road from the state Department of Transportation. But the scope of proposed restrictions broadened as residents called for more limits on heavy trucks.
“One of the things I learned a long time ago is that we don’t dead-end people and then expect them to figure a way to get out,” Hutchins said.
Town Attorney John Skrandel, who is drafting the ordinance, said he would do more research on enforcement issues and bring a revised version of the law for a first reading at the council’s April 28 meeting.
Three provisions that appear likely to remain in the ordinance are descriptions of the trucks that would be restricted: those with three or more axles, including trailers; those that weigh more than 8,000 pounds; and those with a load capacity greater than 1 ton. Violators would be subject to fines under the town’s municipal code.
Skrandel said that trucks making deliveries to Briny Breezes — vehicles that have the town as their destination — would not be restricted. Utility trucks, such and those used by Florida Power & Light, and emergency vehicles also would be exempted.
The town has received the deed transfer paperwork for Old Ocean Boulevard from state officials, Skrandel said, and also a letter from Palm Beach County saying it wants no ownership of the road. So, Old Ocean now is officially Briny Breezes’.
In other business, Council President Sue Thaler said Alderman Ira Friedman has resigned his seat in order to return to the Planning and Zoning board, where he served many years.
Thaler said Karen Wiggins, a former alderman whom Friedman replaced in 2015, has volunteered to return to the council. Wiggins is expected to be sworn in at the town’s April meeting.
By Dan Moffett