County Commissioners are expecting to pass a “broad” ordinance to ban parking on the side of the road around the Kia plant following area residents’ continued complaints of people loitering and littering.
Keith Hart, a resident of Gabbettville Road, said he was asked by his neighbors to represent residents of the street by asking the County Commission to do something about the problem. Hart said residents have continued to be burdened by workers on break leaving trash and cigarette butts in their yards and making residents feel uncomfortable by parking outside their homes at all hours, and the sheriff’s department has no power to stop it.
“They’re getting threatening. My youngest daughter is nervous to stay home by herself because there are people hanging around that we do not know,” Hart said. “… There is quite a bit of trash that they’ve set in the road. One here recently took an intimidating stance and … eyeballed her (the daughter) as she went by … and very much intimidated her, and she called 911.”
Hart said Sheriff James Woodruff has been very responsive to residents’ concerns and sent out deputies immediately to any complaints, but the deputies are limited to only asking the alleged loiterers to leave. Another resident at the meeting said her husband recently was blocked in to his own driveway while home on his lunch break.
Without any legal measure to keep people from parking on the side of the road, there is no recourse deputies can take against the workers taking breaks on the public right-of-way at the edge of residents’ yards.
“As it currently stands, the sheriff has no power,” Hart said. “… I see deputies sit there and make them so uncomfortable that they leave, they don’t even have to do anything, but we need to give him power to work.”
The problem arose after Kia banned smoking on its property, Hart and others have noted, apparently sending smokers to surrounding areas on lunch breaks to smoke. The city of West Point passed ordinances to ban parking on Kia Boulevard, Kia Parkway, Highway 18 and Webb Road, pushing the workers out into the county. The city also implemented $500 first-time littering fines.
“I’ve taken pictures of various people, the trash, the cigarette butts where they’ve emptied their ashtrays,” Hart said. “We’re proud of our road, we have made an investment in the county. We’ve bought our homes. We do not feel that it is appropriate that they hang around like that. When people you don’t know start hanging around, it causes problems. Next thing you know, things will come up missing … I don’t know what the correct measure would be, but the principles the city of West Point put in place seem to be effective there.”
County Engineer James Emery asked how wide an area the commissioners wanted to look at banning parking for proposing an ordinance.
“Make it broad,” said Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe. “… As broad as we can.”
Commissioner Tripp Foster suggested at least a 2-mile radius around the plant. He said the county needs to make sure that it’s wide enough an area that no employees could reasonably drive beyond it and get back to the plant in their allowed break time.
Commissioners are set to look at and intend to vote on an ordinance to ban parking on the side of the roads in the area around Kia on Tuesday.