Belleview police cracking down on speeders
BY AUSTIN L. MILLER
Speeding can cost money, lots of money. Just ask Betty J. Zettel.
Mid-morning Wednesday, Zettel, 67, was taking her 72-year-old sister, Natalie Gornicki, to the doctor and decided to use Southeast 67th Avenue as a shortcut. What Zettel didn't realize was that Belleview Police Officer Jonathan Butcher was checking for speeders along that road.
Butcher clocked Zettel doing 43 mph, or 13 mph over the speed limit. Though both women disputed the reading, there was no dispute about the cost of Zettel's ticket - $160.50.
Zettel told the Star-Banner she was not happy.
"Go after the ones who are speeding," Zettel said. She maintained she was going about six mph over the limit.
Residents of Golfpark Estates, Diamond Ridge and Woodside Apartments have complained to officers about what they see as excessive speeding on Southeast 67th Avenue. It is a message Belleview officers are taking seriously, and their advice to motorists zipping up and down the road is simple - speeding will not be tolerated.
"It's the same thing over and over again, people speeding day and night, playing loud music. It's nonstop," said Ruben Garcia, a resident of Woodside Apartments who walks his dog, Chopper, every day along Southeast 67th Avenue.
Following a rash of complaints, police set up a speed trailer, a device that tracks speed, time/date and amount of vehicles traveling the road. Statistics taken from north and southbound traffic at different dates and times between late January and early March showed that of 4,675 trips, 2,704 drivers were driving over the 30 mph speed limit. The highest recorded speed was 95 mph.
"Everyone is looking for that shortcut to get from point A to point B," said Lt. Terry Holland of the Belleview Police Department.
Traffic along Southeast 67th Avenue is expected to increase following the development of a proposed 900-home and business project on more than 223 acres. A two-lane public access road, to be built by developer Kirk Boone, will cut through property adjacent to the ballpark.
That, according to one resident, will be a nightmare.
"It's going to be a problem when the road and houses are built," said Charles Maxson, who lives in Golfpark Estates.
Slated for construction in late 2007, the planned new road is the first of three sections that eventually would connect Southeast 102nd Place, which runs east from U.S. 441, to County Road 25.
If completed, motorists would be able to travel from the Publix plaza on U.S. 441 east onto Southeast 102nd Place, cut across to Baseline Road and then connect to Boone's road to Southeast 67th Avenue. From there, drivers could make a right that would take them straight to County Road 25.
Proponents say the road is needed because there are no immediate plans to four-lane Baseline Road from Southeast 92nd Place Road to Belleview.
In the meantime, Commissioner Michael Goldman said something needs to be done about the speeding and feels "continual enforcement" is the answer.
"It's a residential neighborhood," Goldman said.
To slow down speeders, Commissioner Ken Nadeau thinks speed bumps and four-way stop signs could be useful.
Holland said Southeast 67th Avenue is not their only problem. The posted 35 mph speed limit on the half-mile Baseline Road extension that stretches from the intersection of Baseline Road and County Road 25 to U.S. 441 has become a speed zone for some drivers.
Of the 15,106 vehicles clocked on the road from late January to early March, 8,682 were going above the speed limit. The highest speed was 82 mph.
The chief complaint heard by officers is that the speed limit should be increased, which Holland believes shouldn't happen.
"First of all, it's not up to us. And second, at what point is fast enough?" Holland said.
Austin L. Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 867-4118.
Development continues: Speed trailer clocks one motorist driving 95 mph on road. 7B