Denton to eye idling issue

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New ordinance would dissuade truckers from leaving engines running

The Denton City Council has agreed to soon consider an ordinance that would limit the ability of truckers to idle their rigs within city limits.

While there are a number of exceptions to the rule, state law generally forbids trucks from idling for more than 5 minutes.

But the law isn’t enforced, according to Amanda Brimmer, principal air quality planner at the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

She briefed the City Council on anti-idling measures during a work session Tuesday afternoon. A city ordinance would allow Denton to join other cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are enforcing the law.

Denton County and nine other counties have not been able to meet federal air quality standards set in 1997, and now have until 2018 to meet even stricter requirements, Brimmer said.

She showed the council a map highlighting participation by nearly all of Collin, Dallas, Kaufman and Tarrant counties with anti-idling enforcement efforts.

“We have a big hole over Denton County,” Brimmer said, telling the City Council that the council of governments would like to see that changed in the near future.

Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp told the other council members she was “a little embarrassed” that Denton hadn’t considered the measure sooner.

Fort Worth is the latest city to adopt anti-idling measures. Because the enforcement is new, the city staff have been focused on educating the driving public by visiting businesses and other idling hot spots to get compliance, Brimmer said.

Dallas, however, began enforcing its ordinance not long after the City Council adopted it in 2008, Brimmer said.

Police officers patrol with a stopwatch and will sit and watch trucks idle, issuing a ticket after they observe the idling for more than 5 minutes. In 2010-11, the city issued 226 tickets for idling. That dropped to 185 in 2011-12 and 70 in 2012-13.

Brimmer said the drop in the number of tickets could indicate that fewer truckers are letting their rigs idle in Dallas.

“At least, we hope so,” she said.

The council of governments has materials to help the city educate drivers, offering fliers, posters and even free signs to erect in places where truckers tend to stop and idle their rigs.

Denton council members told city staff that, while the recommendation is to write an ordinance referring to the state law, they might want to consider additional restrictions.

Council member Dalton Gregory, a retired elementary school principal, said the city might consider writing a rule that prohibits idling in school zones.

On hot days, he often watched parents line up in their cars to pick up their children as much as an hour before school let out, with their vehicles idling the whole time.

Council member Kevin Roden said that as the city starts changing to back-in parking downtown, the city might want to restrict idling in order to protect people on the sidewalks.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

IN OTHER ACTION

During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Denton City Council also:

• Allocated $1,450 from council contingency funds to the Fred Moore Day Nursery School capital campaign to build a new gym.

• Extended its investment advisory contract with First Southwest Asset Management for two years for $52,000.

• Approved the purchase of a flushing/vacuum truck for $157,959 and a dump truck for $133,649 from Rush Truck Center.

• Awarded a roofing contract for the Lewisville Lake water treatment plant to CBS Roofing Services for $267,660.

• Approved a three-year contract for polymer concrete transformer pads for Denton Municipal Electric to Techline for $250,000.

• Updated health department rules for food and food service establishments, including those that affect food trucks.

• Granted an easement to Atmos Energy Corp. in the 1000 block of South Mayhill Road.

• Established a policy on when to pursue LEEDS — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — certification for city buildings.

• Updated ordinances related to noise and consolidated enforcement to the police department.

• Began eminent domain proceedings on about 4 acres of land in the 3900 block of Quailcreek Road (a private road) for the expansion of Mayhill Road.


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