By Dianne Sudbrock
The New Melle Board of Aldermen met Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 at City Hall. Present were Mayor Richard West, Aldermen Nik Bradley, Janet Karrenbrock and Don Hendrich, plus the city clerk and city attorney. Alderman Gary Schneider was absent.
In Open Forum, Barry Shortt, 78 St. Charles Street, asked the board members to read the letter to the editor he submitted to the Boone Country Connection (Sept. edition) regarding the lack of regulation on commercial truck mufflers and the noise disruption some trucks cause as they drive through New Melle. He said some dump trucks are no louder than the average pick-up. However, there are some that are extremely loud, disrupting sleep, conversation, and just the ability to enjoy being outdoors, for people who live along Routes F, D, Z and Foristell Road.
As an owner of a business that attracts customers from beyond the immediate area, Shortt said he’s heard many comments about the truck traffic. He said there is a negative perception of the community with the noise, traffic, and the never-ending pothole issue at the intersection of Highways F and D. (The pothole is supposed to be addressed as part of the Hwy. F widening project to be completed in 2021. There was also discussion about wear and tear on the roads leading into New Melle due to the increase in load limits several years ago. Mayor West also commented about some trucks speeding in town – an issue that is more in the forefront of his mind.
Shortt said there are three noise issues: Jake Brakes* (See Editor’s Note below), downshifting and mufflers. He said there are essentially no regulations at the state level on commercial truck mufflers. He asked for the city’s support and ideas as to how to strengthen state laws. Both Shortt and board members noted that the worst offenders did not appear to be from the locally owned companies.
Shortt would like to get a grass-roots campaign started to bring attention to the issue. Mayor West said he would keep the issue in mind when he becomes a Missouri State Representative in January, and suggested that Shortt also send a letter to St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and the St. Charles County Council.
* Editor’s Note: The Jacobs Engine Brake® (also known as the "Jake Brake®") is a diesel engine retarder that uses the engine to aid in slowing and controlling the vehicle. When activated, the engine brake alters the operation of the engine's exhaust valves so that the engine works as a power-absorbing air compressor. The process creates a loud noise, similar to a series of pops or gunshots.
In most cases, it is an effective braking method that can extend the life of friction brakes and help drivers maintain better control of their rig. For example, it might be an advantage when driving down a steep or long slope.
Some municipalities and jurisdictions have local codes or laws against the use of Jake Brakes within certain areas or certain times, as the level of noise might startle or disturb the local population and peace. Typically, research shows the decibel level to be the same as that of a large lawnmower, but in early morning or late at night, the sound a jake brake causes when engaged can be very disruptive to local communities.
The City of New Melle has the following ordinance posted on its website (enacted in 2005): Section 380.240 Engine Brake Law. [Ord. No. 215 §§1 — 3, 2-16-2005]
In other business:
The financial report was reviewed and approved.Engineering: Right-of-way and easement work is nearing completion on the Mill/Peter Street Road project; and a house in Fiddlestix needs an acceptable silt fence in order to receive 90% of their escrow back.
Land Purchase: Bill 459/Ordinance 445 was passed, authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement to purchase real estate at the corner of Hwy. Z and D. The parcel is approximately 5.2 acres and the purchase price was $440,000.
City of New Melle v. Sullivan et al – a trial date is set for December 8, 2020, and a pre-trial conference is set for November 20, 2020. No other information was provided.
In New Business:
The Board of Aldermen will change their meeting dates starting in December to the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, with the 2nd Thursday for regular meetings and the 4th Thursday for work sessions (as needed.)
The City Clerk’s hours have also been expanded from three days per week to four. City Hall will now be open Monday-Thursday (except for holidays) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. effective immediately.
There being no other business, the meeting adjourned at approximately 7:29 p.m. The next regular Board of Aldermen meeting should be Tuesday, October 13, 2020.