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Breezy Point council votes to raise speed limits

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The Breezy Point City Council voted Monday, March 3, to raise the speed limit on some of the city’s roads from 30 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour and to request a speed study of Weavers Point Road from the state.

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Police Chief Kevin Merschman told the council that posted speed limits on at least five of the city’s streets conflict with Minnesota state statutes, including Dove Street, Ranchette Drive both north and south of County Road 11, Ski Chalet Road and Weavers Point. All except Weavers Point fall withing rural residential districts, and state law designates the speed limits in these zones at 35 miles per hour. Currently, Dove, north Ranchette and Ski Chalet have posted speed limits of 30 miles per hour.

The city, however, does not have the authority to post speed limits that differ from state statute without a supporting speed study.

“Our through-roads are problematic. We are getting more and more people who are questioning the speeds that are posted, and some of the speed limits aren’t posted at all,” Merschman said.

Council members agreed from personal experience that speed limits did seem too low on the roads discussed.

“The beauty of a small-town council meeting is just about everyone at the table is affected by these streets,” said Mayor JoAnn Weaver.

Merschman expressed concern that if the city did not act, it could lead to legal challenges from drivers.

Weavers Point Road currently has no posted speed limit and does not meet the standard set to designate a rural residential district. This means without a state-conducted speed study, the speed limit on this road defaults to 55 miles per hour. Merschman and council members agreed that 55 miles per hour is not appropriate for Weavers Point Road given special hazards associated with the roadway. The council agreed to request the speed study in order to identify an appropriate speed.

This does not mean that drivers should immediately jump in their cars and drive 55 on Weavers Point; Minnesota’s basic speed law requires driving “no faster than is reasonable under existing conditions,” and this includes sharp turns and other hazards.

The council also considered requesting a speed study of Dove Street, but members were concerned that the state could potentially complete the study in the winter, when the hazards of golf carts and pedestrians are all but invisible. Of particular concern is the lack of an age requirement for operators of golf carts, meaning children could be present near the road. They voted to raise the limit to 35 west of Mohican Circle but did not take any action for the moment regarding the portion of the street to the east.

In other council news, Weaver presented police officer Josef Garcia with a Life Saver Award for resuscitating an individual suffering an opiate overdose in Lake Edward Township. Garcia established an IV and administered Narcan, a drug used to counteract effects of an opiate overdose.

With the North ambulance in Brainerd on another call, the ambulance from Crosslake had to respond. Without Garcia’s status as a paramedic officer allowing him to administer drugs, Merschman said it is possible this individual would not have survived. The chief noted there is currently a movement within the state Legislature to allow all peace officers to carry Narcan.

Merschman also presented the police department’s offense summary for February. Officers made 36 traffic stops compared to 51 in February 2013, but made five traffic arrests compared to only one this time last year. The department handled seven medical calls, 22 agency assists, four alarms, six animal-related calls and three accidents. There were also 47 miscellaneous calls.

Chelsey Perkins can be reached at chelsey.perkins@forumcomm.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @PEJ_Chelsey.

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