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Town ponders tougher rules for parking big vehicles
  • Updated

FLORENCE — Boats, buses, big recreational vehicles and other large vehicles in general may be parked on residential streets for only short periods, according to an ordinance now pending before the Town Council.

These code revisions allow for clear enforcement against parked larger vehicles, recreational vehicles and unattended vehicles that hinder emergency access, affect public safety and cause concern in the community, according to a town staff report. The ordinance will come back to the council for a vote at a future meeting.

“By adding these two town codes, I think it gives us a little bit more teeth in being able to solve some of the citizens’ concerns,” Police Chief Bruce Walls told the council Monday.

Vehicles weighing more than 25,000 pounds may be parked on residential streets only for loading and unloading. Buses, boats, portable camping trailers, utility trailers, off-road or haulers and other large recreational vehicles are prohibited from parking on a residential street for more than 48 hours, according to the new code.

Such vehicles can’t be parked on property unless they’re in a rear yard or screened area not visible from the street. The new code also limits vehicle sales to one per property owner unless the property is zoned for car sales.

Current town code is lax, Walls told the council. “A citizen can simply move that vehicle six inches, and now we have to start the clock ticking again.” The new code revisions will allow police to cite owners or place a green tag on the vehicle, meaning it will be towed if it’s not gone in 48 hours.

Violations not resolved in five days may result in a $100 fine, and violations lasting longer could result in misdemeanor charges or $500 per day until the situation is corrected, Walls told the council.

Councilman John Anderson asked how the police plan to deal with repeat offenders. Walls replied that once the new code takes effect, “I don’t believe you’ll have repeat offenders.”

Councilman Arthur “Snake” Neal asked about downtown-area residents who’ve had RVs parked on the street for years. Walls said they will be handled case-by-case.

In other business Monday:

  • Council members offered best wishes to Ben Bitter, assistant to the town manager, who has resigned for another opportunity. Bitter expressed his thanks to the council and for the opportunity to serve the town of Florence.
  • The council authorized the town manager to negotiate an agreement with Ameresco Inc. to provide facility upgrades to create energy savings at town facilities. The cost of the contract is $6.7 million, but Bitter said the town will begin saving money immediately, including almost $300,000 in the first year.

The contract will be paid for with the help of a bond issue, but the savings will be “a net positive benefit for ratepayers into the future,” Bitter told the council.

  • The council approved a contract with Ellison-Mills Contracting for realignment of existing utilities at two roadway crossings for a realigned San Carlos Irrigation canal at a cost of $288,211. The town’s utilities are in San Carlos’ easement and the town must pay to relocate them, Public Works Director/Town Engineer Chris Salas told the council.

He said the affected crossings are not in urbanized areas and shouldn’t be a major hindrance to traffic.

  • The council held a special meeting Sept. 28 to approve a contract with Hylan West Construction to relocate water and sewer lines in preparation for the new State Route 79 bridge over the Gila River for $2,098,419.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has already contracted with FNF Construction to build the bridge and the company will begin work in late December, according to a town staff report. ADOT has given all of the utilities in the way of the project until Nov. 15 to have their lines moved.

A line forms Saturday afternoon for a taste of Fat Ox’s award-winning real wood fired barbecue at the inaugural Showdown on Main-Pitmaster Challenge on Florence’s North Main Street. Nearly 40 professional barbecue teams participated, and the event raised $50,000 for the Florence Friends of Kids First Foundation.

Jerry Matuszewski and his father, Kyle, with Your Behind Barbecue of Waddell, open a smoker to check on their brisket Saturday at the Pitmaster Challenge on North Main Street in Florence. They were also smoking ribs, pork and chicken for the showdown with other pro barbecue teams.

David Hobbs with Hibbs & Crew Barbecue of Wittmann sauces drumsticks at the Pitmaster Challenge on Saturday in Florence.

DJ’s Smokin Barbecue of Albuquerque, New Mexico, works their magic in a ’54 DeSoto Firedome on Saturday at the Pitmaster Challenge.

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Florence puts up valiant effort against powerhouse Benjamin Franklin
  • Updated

QUEEN CREEK — After a halftime score of 21-0, Florence fought back in the second half Friday against Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin.

Tommy Carberry caught a pass and ran 60 yards for the goal, putting the visiting Gophers within a touchdown of Benjamin Franklin with 7:36 left in the game. But the euphoria didn’t last, as three seconds later the Chargers’ Dawson Smith ran in the kick return for a score of 28-14, where it stayed until the final buzzer.

Carberry made both of Florence’s touchdowns and Smith made all four of Benjamin Franklin’s touchdowns.

Chargers coach Dave Jefferies said Smith isn’t physically big but he’s extremely powerful, “one of the strongest kids pound-for-pound in the weight room. He quietly just does his job, works hard, he’s not a big flashy guy. I’m just real proud of how hard he runs. He plays both ways. He plays a secondary on defense, he’s on special teams, and just had a great night tonight; he likes to find that end zone.”

Smith’s first touchdown was only about 20 seconds into the game, a 70-yard run from scrimmage, that “made it look like it was going to be a quick night,” Jefferies said. But Florence “fought, battled and hung on for dear life. And Coach (Bill) McKane does a good job coaching those kids. They’ve got some offensive weapons and made it scary for us for awhile,” Jefferies said. “It was a good game.”

McKane was equally proud of his team.

“Going in, we knew we were going to have our hands full,” he said. “(The Chargers) are a good 4A team, so I’m proud of our kids. I think they played their buns off. They played well. They did some good things tonight, they didn’t quit. They were not intimidated, and they did not fear. There’s no fear in these kids,” McKane said.

Florence had rough going in the first half. The closest they came to scoring was when a pass completion to Carberry put the ball on the 12 yard line near the end of the first quarter. But penalties on each side sent the ball back for a replay on the third down, and the Chargers took possession as the second quarter began.

Florence finally got a break in the third quarter after punting to Benjamin Franklin. The home team’s penalties put the ball 98 yards from goal. Then two plays later, the Chargers fumbled and the Gophers got the ball just four yards from goal. Carberry ran around the right side for Florence’s first score of the night.

Benjamin Franklin had a big second quarter, intercepting the Gophers 23 yards from goal, which set up their second touchdown. They drove to the 3-yard line before making a path for Smith to run it in.

The Chargers later recovered a fumble, but unsportsmanlike conduct eventually backed them up to 73 yards from goal. Ridge Allen caught a big pass for a 45-yard gain, and the Chargers drove to the 4 yard line before Smith punched it through.

The Gophers attempted a 29-yard field goal as the half expired.