Supervisors pass new steel wheel ordinance
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 09/20/2012 10:44 AM
OSAGE, Iowa —The Mitchell County Supervisors unanimously approved Steel or Metal Wheel Ordinance 46 following the third reading at the Sept. 4 board meeting.
Before it was approved, Daniel Zimmerman, a Mennonite farmer from Orchard, said that there seemed to be discrepancies in what the supervisors were being told regarding the ordinance.
The ordinance is aimed at keeping steel wheel tractors off hard surface roads.
Supervisor Stan Walk said that at Zimmerman's request he contacted the Iowa Department of Transportation and talked to the organization's chief legal counsel.
"We had a conversation concerning our proposed ordinance being the same thing as the state's and would the state enforce a ticket if written on state law," Stan Walk said. "Basically what the chief attorney for said was yes they would be enforcing it."
Zimmerman shared information from Dena Gray-Fisher, director of the office of public affairs at the Iowa Department of Transportation, who told him that as far as she could tell after talking to key staff, the DOT has no plans to be involved in litigation should Mitchell County's steel wheel ordinance be challenged in court. He also shared letters between Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk and DOT officials.
The DOT would come up to Mitchell County to enforce state law — not Mitchell County's ordinance, Stan Walk said in response to Zimmerman. Enforcing the local ordinance would be up to the county attorney.
Gray-Fisher said the DOT would ask the attorney general to defend the Iowa Code first, Zimmerman said.
"What you're being told is that it aligns with the state, and I'm not saying it isn't, but the prosecution part of it that you're being made to believe that everything is cool here, that does not bear," Zimmerman said.
The county should not have the third reading of the ordinance without checking into the discrepancies, Zimmerman said.
"You're entitled to your opinion," said board of supervisors chairman Bob Marreel.
Several minutes later, Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk, who had walked out of the supervisors meeting followed by Daniel Zimmerman and Eli Zimmerman, returned and addressed the board.
"I just had a conversation with the two Mennonite gentlemen out in the hall, and they are under the impression that I am trying to enact this ordinance," Mark Walk said. "I told them I work for the supervisors and the county engineer. The county engineer has told me we need to keep these (steel wheel) tractors off the road. The supervisors told me that we need to find a way to keep these tractors off the roads."
"It's not Mark Walk, Mitchell County attorney, trying to come up with a way to keep these tractors off the road," Mark Walk said. "I'm working on your request and (county engineer) Rich Brumm's request to try and find a way to keep the tractors off the road and protect the pavement."
"Not quite," said Stan Walk. "The tractors are okay. It's the damage that the wheels do. We're really not against the tractors."
"Stan (Walk) told me different," Daniel Zimmerman said. "He told me Mark Walk is bringing this up."
"The county attorney was the one who asked for the new Ordinance 46," Stan Walk said.