Neighbors at odds over who votes on installation of speed tables to slow down cut-through traffic in Marietta subdivision
by Noreen Cochran
January 25, 2013 12:32 AM | 7037 views | 51 51 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Marietta City Councilman Grif Chalfant says the neighborhood dispute over the installation of six speed tables in the Lee’s Crossing subdivision is the result of who gets to vote on the issue and who doesn’t. <br>Staff/Emily Barnes
Marietta City Councilman Grif Chalfant says the neighborhood dispute over the installation of six speed tables in the Lee’s Crossing subdivision is the result of who gets to vote on the issue and who doesn’t.
Staff/Emily Barnes
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MARIETTA — A traffic issue so contentious it pits neighbor against neighbor is brewing in Lee’s Crossing, a subdivision south of often-gridlocked Whitlock Avenue.

It will spill over into the Marietta City Council public safety committee meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

The neighborhood of more than 400 homes has found itself a victim of the cut-through culture, in which motorists will evade traffic snarls on commercial roads by taking detours through residential neighborhoods.

City Councilman Grif Chalfant represents the ward that includes Lee’s Crossing and its main roads of Trailwood Lane, Lees Trace and Manning Road.

He said the issues being debated so vigorously came to a head at a homeowners association meeting Tuesday, at which neighbors took sides on two separate questions.

Question No. 1 is whether to install six speed tables, which are asphalt platforms with ramps leading up to them. They’re meant to slow down traffic without requiring a full stop like a traditional speed bump.

The $3,000 cost of each speed table would be borne by the city.

“A lot of people don’t want them, and a lot of people do want them. Especially the ones on Lees Trace,” Chalfant said about the road where all six would be installed if approved by voters.

Question No. 2 is who can vote for or against the speed tables.

According to Chalfant, city law will allow 200 households, or about half the subdivision, to vote.

The deciding factor is access to Manning Road, a connector to Whitlock that becomes Lees Trace.

Residents of Trailwood Lane, the other half of the subdivision, have no voice in the matter.

Chalfant said they want a vote because, contrary to city engineering studies, they travel Lees Trace to exit the subdivision at Manning, which has a traffic signal, unlike the roads connecting Trailwood to Whitlock.

“The nonvoters’ biggest argument is to get to Marietta High School or Kroger, they always go through Lees Trace,” Chalfant said. “That’s why they want to vote on speed tables because they will be going over them.”

Trailwood residents may even want their own speed tables, he said, because of drivers who are new, who are texting while driving, or both.

“What brought this about was several wrecks in the last several months. Some of them have run into trees,” Chalfant said. “Out of 410 families, you have a lot of teenage drivers. And it’s not just them; some people don’t pay attention and just drive too fast.”

Opponents to the speed tables or to the process would not go on record, several citing fear of retaliation from their neighbors.

However, one concern aired was that newcomers should have investigated the subdivision’s traffic problems prior to their arrival.

Melissa Drehs, a Lees Trace resident and real estate agent, said the research she did before moving into her home in June 2010 could not have revealed the hazards she encountered.

“I knew it would be a great place to raise children because I had been experiencing the environment while my son was being babysat there,” she said. “I never anticipated my mailbox would be hit three times. Since I’ve lived here, my mailbox has been hit three times and completely knocked off.”

Drehs said her children, a boy, 6, and a girl, 4, are her main concern.

“People are angry at me that I just moved in and I’m stirring something up, but at the end of the day, if someone hits my child and God forbid kills them, it doesn’t matter how popular I am among my neighbors,” she said.

Drehs cited a conversation with another mother, who advised her not to let her children play outside the backyard, a strategy Drehs said she found impractical.

“You can tell your child not to go into the street,” she said. “But we all know that you can turn your back for a second and your biggest nightmare could be happening in front of your eyes.”

Another opposition viewpoint, that of ineligible households becoming eligible to vote through an ordinance amendment or variance, seemed like a stall tactic to Drehs.

“The ballot was supposed to go out already. The meeting was not to see if you want them. That was already determined,” she said about a December homeowners’ meeting. “People had enough time, and they didn’t voice their opinions the first time.”

Drehs said a third opposition argument was the nuisance that neighbors said would be caused by the speed tables.

“They’re not like huge speed bumps. They’re three inches off the ground and you have a ramp that leads you up. To say it will inconvenience you is a poor excuse, in my mind,” she said.

City Councilman Jim King said the five speed tables in his ward do not annoy him nor cause damage.

“There are a number of speed tables on East Park Boulevard,” he said about a road in the East Park subdivision, which borders his Brentwood Park neighborhood. “I have a low-slung sports car. If you go the speed limit of 25 mph, they don’t do a thing to your car.”

They do, however, work.

“In my opinion they’re very effective,” King said. “I have asked the citizens, and they tell me they’re happy.”

He said the five speed tables, installed about five years ago at an almost unanimous request from the 272-household subdivision, are among the only ones in the city.

City Engineer Jim Wilgus said there are three on Campbell Hill and five at Life University.

Others are in the pipeline.

“We’ve got a list of 60 locations that are looking at speed tables,” he said about subdivisions like Carriage Oaks, Hickory Hills and Whitlock Heights. “We’re getting ready to install them on Evelyn Street.”

 

Comments
(51)
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Pops B
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January 30, 2013
To Another Resident - the 3 year-old was in a fenced backyard and somehow able to manipulate open the gate latch. The mother was actually playing with another child on a swing not fifteen feet away from the gate. Within probably no more than 2 minutes, the 3 year-old was out and in the street about 30 feet in front of the house. I can still feel and see the pain in those parents eyes to this day. And I often think these days as I babysit my three grandchildren and lose site of one of them for a minute or two, the same thing could happen to me. Have you, Another Resident, or you, supergrandparent, ever lost site of one of yours even with the stringent of rules and reminders?
Another Resident
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January 30, 2013
That is indeed very tragic. And accidents do happen. But a speed table still might not have prevented that tragedy. Little ones are difficult to see - no matter the speed.

Let me ask you this - have you lost a family member because rescue didn't get to them fast enough? The rescue departments are against speed tables because they delay response time.

But the issue is DO ALL RESIDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE!
Long time resident
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January 29, 2013
There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding the City's survey of speeds in Lees Crossing. The City determined that 85% of the drivers were going 32 mph or less and that did not originally qualify for the speed tables. Qualification under the ordinance does not consider the fastest drivers. Per the City Engineer, the top speeds measured were over 50 mph and those drivers pose a real danger. Unfortunately I have witnessed cars at much higher speeds and have even seen cars passing other cars.
LC resident from '92
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January 28, 2013
I have raised two children on Lees Trace for 21 years I have always felt safe on my property. I have been watching the streets vigilantly since the neighborhood meetings began and have yet to see a vehicle driving at an alarming rate of speed. I believe the activists speaking in favor of speed humps are allowing their emotions to override common sense. The accident involving the young driver who left the road last fall, and started this controversy, was more a result of the driver taking his eyes off the road than of speeding. The driver had just passed the police who were giving speeding tickets in our neighborhood and the driver did NOT receive a ticket. The police were so close to the accident, that they heard the collision while clocking cars. Speed humps will NOT prevent this type of accident from happening again.

Be careful what you ask for. We will be destined to drive over these humps in the road for years and years to come. Streets are not meant to be humpy and bumpy,
John on Trailwood
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January 28, 2013
I've lived in Lee's Crossing for 12 years. I drive down Lees Trace numerous times everyday, as well as walk and ride bicycles with my 7 and 9 year-old children. I have never once felt in any danger of reckless drivers or speeders. 99% of the people driving on this road are local residents driving within 5 mph of the speed limit. I do not know of even one incidence of a pedestrian ever being struck in Lees Crossing.

I have to wonder if some of these people are talking about the same neighborhood. From reading some of these comments, you'd think they'd taken up residence along I-285. I encourage anybody interested to take few minutes to actually watch traffic along Lees Trace and judge for themselves if there is a serious problem in need of such drastic and expensive solution.

Of course, I guess that opinion makes me an uncaring monster who wants to see children run down in the streets or a maniac that wants to have free rein to drive my sports car 60 mph through the neighborhood. Since I am neither, I think the problem is more likely with a handful of overly uptight people (every neighborhood has them) who will never be satisfied with their neighbors driving habits until everyone slows down to 5 mph in front of their house.

Like it or not, this is seen as a major inconvenience by the majority of residents and we should ALL have a say in the matter. To say that wanting all the neighborhood residents to have a vote in the matter is a stalling tactic is utterly ridiculous and disingenuous. Lees Trace is over a mile long and we all use it everyday, going to work, schools, getting groceries, etc, etc. It already has a safe speed limit (25mph) which is followed by the vast majority of people on this road.

Despite obviously biased reports about these speed bumps by the people responsible for their installation, they do cause damage to cars, they are not safe to travel over at 25 mph (if this was the case, they would have absolutely no effect on speeding, as speeders would simply jump the bumps at 25mph and then accelerate, probably more aggressively, on the long stretches in between), and they do slow down emergency vehicles.

The fact is, these are public roadways paid for by all tax payers. They are not your personal property. They are certainly not a playground for Mrs. Drehs' unattended children. And I guarantee that if Mrs. Drehs' 6 and 4 year-old child were running out in the street alone, myself or one of her neighbors would quickly stop and make sure that they were out of danger (and probably politely remind her that she should always know exactly where her young children are playing).

At the neighborhood meeting, the city councilman said that these speed bumps were for neighborhoods with near unanimous agreement on their installation. As witnessed both at that meeting and on this article, this is clearly not the case for Lees Crossing.
Cindy on Lees Trace
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January 28, 2013
I can see you put some thought into your response which is why it is even more embarrassing for you and for our neighborhood. Ms. Drehs is by no means the only neighbor of yours that has been lobbying for speed tables. The passive aggressive bullying displayed with these type responses on her parenting skills is fascinating and pathetic. I will slow down and politely remind you to check yourself.
Another Homeowner
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January 28, 2013
John on Trailwood - you are EXACTLY correct!!!!!
fellow neighbor
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January 29, 2013
John- please come to the public works meeting at city hall tonight at 5pm if you can! We need calm voices like yours!

You summed this issue up beautifully!
Frustrated homeowner
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January 26, 2013
I find it interesting that in the first meeting about the speed tables the officer at the meeting said that he found that drivers in Lee's Crossing were not speeding (enough to warrant a ticket) - meaining they were going over 25 but less than 35. It is also interesting to note that most residential streets have a speed limit of 30 mph while Lee's Crossing has a speed limit of 25. I have traveled many of the residential streets the past few days and notice that on these streets of 30 mph there are sidewalks and residents walking, jogging and riding with no sense of "fear". So to all those who say that people are going 50 down Lee's Trace, if that is the case then why did the officer say it is less than 35???

I also find it interesting that the woman who so desparately wants these speed tables will not have to go over a single one to get to her home. Wow!
Concerned Neighbor
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January 27, 2013
The reason the police didn't observe anybody speeding during the test was that the test was advertised! DUH. My biggest fear is a child getting hit on their way to or from school since they don't get bus service. I had someone pass me while I was driving through the curve at the front of the neighborhood with children walking down the sidewalk!
Pops B
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January 28, 2013
The comment "I also find it interesting that the woman who so deparately wants these speed tables will not have to go over a single one to get to her home. Wow!"

How sad. Have you, Frustrated homeowner, ever considered that whoever this woman is may be more concerned about the safety of others rather than simply the convenience or inconvenience of herself? And could it be that leaving or entering the community is not the only time she uses Lees Trace? Am I wrong that using the pool and tennis court from any direction on Lees Trace would require everyone to cross at least one of the speed tables?
supergrandpa
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January 26, 2013
I raised 3 kids and about 20 dogs over the years. None were ever run over! Why? Because I kept them in my yard! I did not need the government to make things safe for me and mine. If you can't take care of your children, don't have any. No one should be inconvenienced because of your inability to be an effective parent.
Pops B
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January 28, 2013
Consider yourself lucky supergrandpa. I know a couple of very, very good parents who had similar rules of "playing only in the yard". When in one of those cases we watched and joined with these good parents in shedding many tears at their 3 year-old's funeral, it reminded us that kids don't always do as they are told.
Another Resident
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January 28, 2013
To Pops - why in the world would a 3 year old be left outside unattended????
Not on my dime
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January 25, 2013
Lee's Crossing homeowners should pay for any speed tables in their neighborhood. Wake up. The speeders are these neighborhood residents (and their Kimberly Way kin) They are already costing taxpayers' money for a public hearing and all that goes into it. I know of three frienly policepersons who patrol the area. They would be more than happy to turn on the blue lights during rush and save everyone money.
Pops B
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January 27, 2013
Have to agree with one thought by Not on my dime - it would be great to see some blue lights flashing and tickets handed out to careless and/or speeding drivers not only here in Lee's Crossing, but on both Manning and Whitlock as well. But those are hit and miss deterrents - speed tables are 24-7. As for cost, I think having the Lees Trace HOA pay for them should be an option - if city regs allow it. Of course again, Not on my dime's handle tells it all - heck with safety and concern about others. If I have to pay part of it, don't do it!
Affected one
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January 29, 2013
Not on my dime, I can't disagree with you on that. However, let me educate you as to how this really works and how it is paid for. Apparently, in the last Tsplost (and now I will never vote for one of those again), there was a provision for the City of Marietta to collect some money to be used for installing speed tables all over the City! The initial ordinance, written by the city, was so (apparently) tight, that only 3 (of the 60-70 streets who has asked about tables) qualified. So like all good government entities, since the money is apparently burning a hole in their pockets, the city changed their ordinance so that it is easier to get these tables and now suddenly, ALL the streets on the initial list now qualify! How is that for our government at work!

People beware, soon you may see speed tables all over our fine city!
Robert Vaughn
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January 25, 2013
The speed tables need to put on Manning. On that short stretch, there are two schools and a public park and multifamily condos. Drivers can barely pull out of Wilson Circle or Queensboro complex because of speeders.
Pops B
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January 25, 2013
I'm really amazed at some of these comments. As a grandfather who when visiting this very impressive Lee's Crossing often takes his three grandkids who are all under five years of age walking and tricycle riding along Lees Trace, I can tell you that there are plenty of drivers either not paying attention because of cell phones, fussing with the radio or something else on the dash (it appears from the outside}, or just who are just plain inattentive to their driving to warrant worry from either residents on the street, or others using the thoroughfare. And I"m not talking about the teenage drivers - my walks are usually when they are in school or to early in the day to catch them. But the hills on Lees Trace and then that curve four or five houses from Manning are accident spots just waiting to happen for the speeding car. I'm not a fan of speed humps or bumps or calming islands, whatever you want to call them. But I will tell you this, from my over fifty years of driving, short of stop signs they do cause drivers to slow down. And I for one think the so-called inconvenience or annoyance of a three-inch-high bump in the road in return for the safety issues it would address is well worth it. As for cut-throughs and who is actually using the road, it matters not. An out-of-control vehicle is an out-of-control vehicle and an accident is an accident regardless of who is driving. Wouldn't it be nice if people would think of others in addition to their own selfish and self-serving issues once in a while?
notaspeeder
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January 25, 2013
Speed Humps, Speed Breakers, Visible Sign of Police enforcement all deter speeding and wreck less driving. Those that do not want them are the exact ones speeding or their teenage children. We all have a right to live in a community where laws are obeyed and enforced.

Speed humps cost less than a uniformed police officer; those who complain of them because of cost or toss Obama into the conversation are beyond ignorant. This is a local matter that is addressed locally by local funds. Now, I’m sure there is a federal grant that the local city can apply for to help fund..That is a different story.

If the police department cannot enforce the speed limit on a regular basis, then the speed humps should be installed. Then again, we are asking the government to enforce common sense, existing laws and curtsey to your neighbors..

What is interesting is a neighborhood of decent, modest homes and middle income families does not want to protect their occupants, property value and property in general. Is it ignorance or arrogance?

It’s really simply, hire additional officers to enforce existing laws, and raise the tax rate or mileage rate to offset the expense, or install for a onetime fee a device that reduces the overall speed in the neighborhood and provides safety to those within the neighborhood.

As far as the lady and her mailbox goes, wasn’t long ago that it was a federal offense to tamper, damage or defame a mailbox.. I would suppose if that law was still around, the people in this neighborhood would be a little more mindful of their obvious ignorant ways.

You can’t change ignorance, arrogance or law breakers.. But you can certainly deter it.

Lee's Trace Resident
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January 25, 2013
I think we need to be careful. We may get what we asked for!

Most of the cars that land in our yard are the result of impaired drivers. Speed tables will make it more difficult for impaired drivers to stay in the street. As good parents that do not live on the main street we must keep our children in our fenced back yards.
Drew1234
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January 25, 2013
I've lived in the neighborhood longer then all of you cry babies. Speed humps are a waste of money. Just like that stupid performing arts center they are building at the high school. Katie I'm sure is the one at the pool who gets angry at the teenagers at the pool being to "rough in the water". If you want people to slow, increase police patrolling. But hey that's my 2 cents. Lets just waste a couple grand....Obama spent 10 million on his Hawaiian vacation, what's another 15k for pointless speed tables matter.

For the record I run everyday in Lees Crossing and don't think speeding is an issue at all. It's the moms in their minivans on their phones with the kids on the car. That's the problem.
RC86
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January 25, 2013
Dumb. Keep your 2 cents.
notaspeeder
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January 25, 2013
@ Drew-"Cry Babies" "Obama" "Soccer Moms" .. are you just generally unhappy or ignorant? Certainly you can come up with some new material then those three.. Hopefully no one hits you net time your out for a run.
Katie McG
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January 25, 2013
Teenagers at the pool being "rough in the water" do no physical harm to anyone, but thanks for thinking of me! Police patrolling is a temporary fix and the money is sitting there already saved waiting to see if the votes say go for it. I agree people on their phones are usually the ones who need to slow down.
LC DAD
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January 25, 2013
Drew1234 - You are an idiot. I'll help you pack up and move to Polk County. No stupid auditoriums there.
LC Resident
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January 25, 2013
Adding additional stop signs to Lee's Trace would have the same benefit as the speed tables - with less cost and maintenance.

I live on a cul-de-sac and when my child was young I NEVER allowed him to play in the street during times where people were leaving to go to work or coming home from work. Small children cannot be seen easily!!! There is nothing wrong with children playing in their back yard as opposed to the front yard! As to riding bikes, surely you wouldn't let a child ride a bike on a main street through a subdivision! I have walked Lee's Trace many times (to the elementary school with my child) and just through the neighborhood and I never felt my safety was an issue.

BUT the fact remains that this article deals with SHOULD ALL RESIDENTS HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE or just a few! And the answer is if we are a community then ALL RESIDENTS SHOULD HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE! Especially since the one speaking loudly for the speed table will not even be inconvenienced by them!
Fellow LC resident
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January 25, 2013
Can't agree more with you on your points! I can't even fathom why the city would consider that ALL residents should not be able to vote on a matter as permanent as speed tables. And you are so right about how the tables will not inconvenience the one speaking so loudly about them! Just another example of punishing the masses for the sins of a few!
Really? Really?
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January 25, 2013
The article written by Noreen Cochran is very misleading and incorrect on many points! Very disappointing.

The title of the article is “Neighbors at odds over who votes on installation of speed tables to slow down cut-through traffic in Marietta subdivision”.

It has been recommended by residents, LCHA and City Employees for residents in the “back” of the subdivision or those that don’t want to drive the over speed tables to cut through the adjoining neighborhoods to avoid the speed tables.

It is absurd to suggest cutting through another neighborhood to avoid the “solution” for stopping cut through traffic in our neighborhood??? Really???

Lee's Crossing
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January 26, 2013
Precisely. Very ironic, isn't it?
look at the facts
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January 25, 2013
clearly a lot of you posting below have not looked at the actual data and hard facts by people who actually know what they are talking about (i.e. transportation engineers). speed humps do, in fact, work to slow down *speeding* traffic, they do NOT slow down emergency vehicles and they INCREASE property values.

Just Wait
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January 25, 2013
My Lord, what a bunch of whiners. 1. streets are for vehicles, they are not playgrounds. 2. having your mailbox hit does not necessarily equate to excessive speed. 3. speed tables will not slow cars down. In fact, many will go faster over them because it is fun. 4. this subdivision must be Republican, because you can't even get along with yourselves.
Katie McG
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January 25, 2013
You are correct, YARDS are playgrounds and if someone is speeding around a corner in Lees Trace and swerves off of the road into my YARD and hits my mailbox or my child, we have a problem. Like I said in earlier comments, I'd rather have a few careless drivers than many careless drivers. Come with some research to your points.
Old Lady
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January 25, 2013
I totally agree with you and I LIVE in this whiney neighborhood!
Be Careful
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January 25, 2013
Dear "Katie McG",

There is no limit on where someone should or could be scared. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you should not be scared in your own front yard. Who are you to be so special that YOUR front yard should be safer than anywhere else? And like I said, even with speed humps cars can still go fast enough to kill. Do not think that putting them in will magically solve all your problems.

And no, blocking the one through street that gives "cut through" access will not slow down emergency vehicles. Their maps will be updated to show which streets to access when responding to calls.

But speed humps WILL slow down emergency response.

But whatever, it's your neighborhood, not mine.

Before everyone goes off half cocked, why not talk to people who live in speed humped neighborhoods and see if it REALLY slows traffic.

Katie McG
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January 25, 2013
No one is more special than another. It is the safety of ALL of the neighbors. If you feel unsafe in your front yard, you should also take the measures that these neighbors have in order to feel safer in your subdivision. Speed tables will slow traffic enough to at least give others a chance at some security in their own homes. We are not trying to make people go 5 miles an hour through the subdivision, but instead go the actual speed limit. In regards to places other than your front yard, when you move into a neighborhood you are moving into a community. Outside of your neighborhood, there are totally different measures for security. If you feel unsafe at an intersection, go ahead and talk to your local officers and see what measures you need to take to prevent more accidents. I’m not saying my yard is more important than anywhere else, but that you fight for things you are affected by and this is mine. Nothing is a magic solution but it is definitely a start. Just because there will still be a few idiots who are careless enough to not slow themselves in a neighborhood, that means we should give up? No. I'd rather have a few careless drivers than many careless drivers. The people I know that are for the speed humps HAVE done their research. The Councilman also agreed in this article that these tables do work in East Park subdivision and that the citizens who live there are happy with the result. I do believe these tables will cause more good than harm and that is why we will continue to support them.
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
The above response is exactly where the 2 sides of the argument are divided; One side is talking about “annoyance” ( i.e. responses at meetings include; “ugly”, “low class”, worried about wear/tear car (seriously if you go speed limit?), inconvinence “, “should just deal with it since you bought a house on Lee’s Trace”, which has also resulted in the favorite catch phrase “buyer beware” (which I’m gathering means you have no rights to speak up about anything since you were dumb enough to buy a house on the main entrance street to a wonderful and great neighborhood)

The other side of the argument is focusing on “safety”. A voiced concern for years apparently (not just new neighbors in Lees Trace but a topic in meetings for many many years) Any member of the neighborhood who enjoys walking/running, turning into their driveway, getting their mail, OR kids walking to the elementary school in the morning and afternoon literally have to catch their breath almost every day when there is a near miss of cars speeding round corners, hitting mailboxes, and running into yards cause they loose control.

I can live with annoyance…..

Cobb Citizen
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January 25, 2013
Yes the "tables" would slow down the traffic, but it does emit more noise by the accelerating and decelerating of the various vehicles (some with loud exhaust) passing through and their bouncing over them. Not allowing access for through traffic and upgrading the main intersections out of the various subdivisions should be a first step. Given the number of places these "tables" are needed, and the cost thereof, an extra policeman or two enforcing the speeds would be a better investment all around. It there really is a speeding problem, the tickets alone will pay for them.
LC resident
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January 25, 2013
You are right, these things would help stop the cut through traffic, but what was supposed to be the main point of the article is that fully 1/2 of the neighborhood homeowners are not allowed to vote on the issue due to the way the ordinance is written. Supposedly 200 homes don't need to have access to this main road, but are encouraged to cut through 2 other neighborhoods to sit on Whitlock Avenue (which by the way is full of traffic most of the time, not just in the morning and afternoon)- the very roads that allow the cut through traffic in the first place. That is quite ironic, in my opinion. All most residents really want is a fair vote on the issue with all homeowners being allowed to have a vote!
safety first
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January 25, 2013
People can go back and forth all they like, but the fact is, if someone gets injured or killed, especially from someone losing control and going into a homeowner's yard, there will be plenty of "I told you so" but it want undo what happened. This is a time when safety has to come first. And I agree about Manning, I too, live nearby and you really have to be careful not to be hit by a speeding car is you are coming out of one of the residential communities.
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