Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sykesville Residents Demand Referendum, Rebuke Camera Ordinance

Sykesville residents will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to allow the speed camera program which the town council voted to approve last month. Under the town charter, a newly ordinances can be forced to a referendum if 15% of the town's registered voters sign a petition within 20 days of its passage. The required number of signatures for this petition was 338, but the organizers had only 11 days to gather them because they only became aware of the right to petition for a referendum 9 days after the bill was passed. This set a very high bar which the newly formed organization needed to meet. In addition, the effort was hampered by miserable rainy weather during the last weekend before the deadline, forcing petitioners to carry the signed forms in ziplock bags and tupperware containers to keep them from getting soaked. However on Sunday March 14 the group's organizer, Sykesville resident Chris Martin, turned in the petition to the Mayor with signatures from 529 town residents, 56% more than the required number, and 23.5% of the total registered voters in the town.

The petition signatures will still need to be verified by the town clerk. Assuming no excuse is found to invalidate it the town will schedule the referendum either at the next regular election or at a special election. This would make Sykesville residents the first in Maryland to have the opportunity to directly vote for or against speed cameras. In other instances in the US when photo enforcement has been put to a direct popular vote, The People have rejected the cameras EVERY SINGLE TIME.

UPDATED 3/30/2009:
The Sykesville town clerk has approved the petition. The referendum is scheduled for TUESDAY MAY 4, 2010. If you are a Sykesville resident but are not registered to vote the deadline to register is Monday April 19, 2010. Voter Registration forms may be picked up at the Sykesville Town House, 7547 Main Street, Sykesville, MD 21784 or at the Carroll County Board of Elections, 225 N. Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157. For further information call the Town Clerk at 410-795-8959 or the Carroll County Board of Elections at 410-386-2080.

The final version of the ordinance not only authorizes speed cameras but designates all roads within a 1/2 mile radius, including many roads not adjacent to the grounds of a school. Sykesville had only one school zone designated previously and two of the facilities did not have ANY roads designated as school zones near them previously. The ordinance sets the speed limits in all school zones at 25mph, including portions of Springfield Ave/Main Street/ West Friendship Road where the speed limit is currently 30mph -- lowering the speed by 5mph and turning currently safe legal drivers into "lawbreakers".

You can read the full text of the ordinance HERE

Sykesville residents: this is your chance to have your say on this issue. Probably your ONLY chance EVER. IF YOU DON'T VOTE YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN!