Bloomington board reviews ordinances, approves traffic code amendment

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By Steve Van Kooten


The Bloomington Village Board convened on Jan. 2 for the first meeting of 2024. The board held their 2024 caucus for the Spring election before the meeting and then started on a multi-page agenda.

Present at the meeting were Robert McLimans, Village President, and Trustees Tim Senn, Dennis Morris, Dawn Drew, Bob Fox, Chastity Allen and Scott Deantal. Shawna Atterbury, Village Clerk; Joe Walsh, Director of Public Works; Matt Small, Sheriff’s Deputy; and Mary Culligan were also in attendance.

Two resolutions to amend chapters of the Bloomington Municipal Code were on the docket for consideration. The first, Resolution 2024-01, implemented changes to subsection 4.07(6) of Section 4.07 of Chapter Four, entitled “Traffic Code.”

Small summarized the current traffic code: “If someone violates a parking order, whether it’s no parking 48 hours, no parking between 3 to 5-6, the only resolution to that is to tow their vehicle.”

Small said the changes gave the ordinance an “intermediate step” between a warning and towing the vehicle away. That step would implement a citation penalty for parking infractions with a fine amount between $20-$100. Small stated the amount could be based on the severity of each infraction.

Enforcement of the fines would include an increase in the amount after two days of non-payment. Small enrolled Bloomington in the Traffic Violation Registration Program (TVRP), a state program used to enforce citations. The program will require Bloomington to provide two notices in the first 30 days and an opportunity for the violator to pay the citation. After 30 days of non-payment, a violator would be unable to register a vehicle in Wisconsin until the fines were paid.

The amended ordinance also retained the option for a vehicle to be towed.

“Say we’re going to have a special event, and we have an obviously junk vehicle or a vehicle that has six parking tickets left on it, we know the person isn’t going to do anything about it. So, we reserve the option to tow the vehicle,” Small said.

“It doesn’t have to be in violation four times in a row? You can tow it at any time?” Senn asked.

“It’s by discretion,” Small answered.

“We have a part-time officer from the Police Department,” McLimans said. “He’ll cover when he can cover… we now have something we can deal with rather than a warning then towing the vehicle.”

“It’s going to be by complaint; someone’s going to have to make a complaint about it,” Small added.

The board approved Resolution 2024-01 to amend Bloomington’s Municipal Code.

The second Resolution, 2024-02, changed subsection 9.08 of Chapter Nine, entitled “Dogs and Other Animals.”

According to McLimans, the resolution changed three components: penalties, limits for number of animals and enforcement of barking complaints.

Unlike the traffic ordinance resolution, 2024-02 met with more conjecture and discussion between the board and Officer Small.

For limits the ordinance had set the number of dogs allowed at five; however, a caveat was provided for residents to pursue a variance for additional animals through the Village Board.

Small noted the ordinance stated permits for dogs would be valid for one year and suggested the document be amended to match the language for dog licenses, which stated, “…for one year or Dec. 31, whichever is less.”

“That way you can deal with all of your licenses and permits for dogs of more than five at the same time as opposed to doing them every month or two months,” Small said.

Small also suggested the penalties section be amended to eliminate the first and second offenses outlined in the new ordinance, which stated a first offense constituted a verbal warning and a written warning for a second offense. Small stated the citation would indicate an offense had taken place while a warning did not mean an offense had taken place. The warnings were to give a potential violator time to change the situation/issue.

“You don’t have to have it down and codified, it’s just normal?” Senn asked.

“I don’t need an ordinance to give me the ability or to justify verbally warning somebody,” Small clarified.

The barking portion of the ordinance received the most scrutiny from Small and the board, particularly the change in the complaints process for law enforcement to investigate and cite barking infractions.

“The old ordinance required that three people complain,” McLimans said. “This one says if any person comes forward and complains about a dog barking—as long as it’s documented per what we talked about last meeting—then we can take action.”

Small stated neighbor disputes were a potential issue with the way the new ordinance was worded.

“A dog barks one time, neighbor says, ‘Eh, that annoyed me. Write them a ticket.’” He then said it could “open a can of worms” and stated the three complaint threshold established whether the barking was a genuine disturbance.

“What does it mean by three or more?” Allen asked. “Do you mean three complaints in one night, three complaints daily in a row?”

Small answered, “I think three complaints from one particular occurrence.” He then said three complaints in 24-48 hours were sufficient.

“With all these changes, I recommend we table this until the next month until we can get this corrected,” McLimans stated.

Ordinance 2024-02 was tabled for February’s meeting.

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