Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cheverly, Forest Heights Speed Cameras Questioned

Residents of the town of Cheverly and Forest Heights have questioned the accuracy of the towns' new speed cameras.

In Cheverly, someone apparently made enough noise about it that the town felt the need to publish a response on August 6th.  The town officials "investigated" the issue and surprisingly discovered that there was no problem whatsoever.  However they did state that they would provide a "provide a completely independent verification of the Optotraffic unit’s calibration" which consisted of the town doing its own comparison using a hand held radar unit.

Of course this is not an "independent verification" because the town collects the revenue from these cameras.  Potentially a great deal of revenue.  Cheverly wrote over $2.5million of new speed camera "fines and forfeitures" into their 2011 budget projections, increasing the town's total budget from $4.4million in FY2010 to over $7million in FY2011.  Town officials have begun openly touting the cameras as a source of revenue from out of town drivers.  The town council recently lowered the speed limit on most local roads by 5mph and is seeking permission from the SHA to add cameras on state highway 202.  In the minutes of a May 2009 council meeting one council member was recorded expressing his view of the cameras: "CM Schachter will have questions about how creatively and expansive the Town could be in interpreting the law regarding the expenditure of these funds. Noted that it doesn’t bother him one bit to make money to be used for additional public good. Can we lower speed limits around the schools? "

Now do you really think they would tell you if they found the cameras were in error?

The cameras used in Cheverly are the same type as those used in Brentwood and other towns in the area which have recently clocked buses traveling at speeds which are virtually impossible.

Similar complaints have been made in the town of Forest Heights, according to a story in the TBD Network and ABC News 7.  Forest Heights also uses the same model of speed camera as Cheverly along Indian Highway.  One business owner received a citation for a 40 foot long 40,000lb RV with a car in tow for traveling 53mph just after turning onto the uphill road.  "It's no way I can even get up to 25 miles an hour in that short period of time in this," ABC news 7 quoted Earl Lomax, a former police officer.  Lomax stated that he requested a court date to challenge his citation but that the courts are now so backed up that he could not receive a court date.

Forest Heights greatly expanded the school zone previously located in the town in order to allow them to place the cameras closer to the point where a 40mph limit dropped to 35. 

By now some Cheverly and Forest Heights residents are starting to realize that they have been duped by town officials who want the cameras to steal from passing drivers... and perhaps town residents as well.  To the citizens who raised these concerns we will now ask "Have you had enough yet?".  If the town council won't listen, write to us and we will.