Washington City Council passes resolution allowing police to enforce traffic laws on school grounds

In this file photo, the Washington City Council conducts a public meeting, Washington City, Utah, May 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler. St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — While the traffic laws that govern city streets typically don’t apply to parking lots and private property, that is no longer the case for property owned by the Washington County School District in Washington City.

On Wednesday, the Washington City Council passed a resolution extending the ability of city police to enforce traffic laws on school grounds. Prior to the change, city code only allowed for a minimum of enforcement – a fact certain high school students were very well aware of, Council Member Kurt Ivie said.

“The students knew there wasn’t much law enforcement could do,” he said.

During the council meeting, Ivie said the principal of Crimson Cliffs High School approached him asking if the city could do something enforcement-wise related to school parking lots. Evidently, certain students were driving recklessly on school grounds and creating a potential safety hazard.

Examples Ivie and others gave of the reckless driving that prompted the city to take action include high school drivers doing donuts in the school parking lot, leaving skid marks and piling a large group of students in the back of trucks where they could be easily thrown off if there’s a sharp turn.

Parking lot of Crimson Cliffs High School, Washington City, Utah, March 25, 2021 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“As far as the city perspective, this was needed to ensure the safety of the students and make sure law enforcement could do something about it,” Ivie told St. George News.

Being able to enforce traffic laws on school grounds will enable police officers to approach the teen drivers in question and warn them about the potential consequences their actions behind the wheel could have, Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz said as he reviewed the policy with the City Council.

“That’s our goal, mainly, to have a valid reason to stop and talk to the students,” Klotz said. “With this change, we would be able to say, ‘Hey, this is what you could be facing (citation wise). This traffic law you just violated now applies to the parking lot.’”

The primary goal is to help educate the high school drivers through warnings before having to resort to issuing tickets, Klotz said.

Steven Dunham, communications director for the Washington County School District, said the school district is grateful for the support of local police agencies when it comes to student safety.

“We are always grateful for their support and efforts,” he said.

Other business

In other news, the City Council approved of a height waiver for the incoming hospital to be built near the Washington Parkway/Exit 13 interchange of Interstate 15.

A rendering of the incoming hospital to be built in Washington City, Utah. | Rendering courtesy of Washington City, St. George News

To be built on the corner of Buena Vista Boulevard and Washington Parkway, the first phase of construction for the hospital will give it a height of three stories. A second phase of construction will add an additional two floors, making it five stories total. This places it at an estimated 92 feet high, which is beyond the city’s commercial building height limit of 45 feet.

The council approved the height waiver and were told by a representative of the hospital project that they expect to hold a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in September or October.

The council also passed its annual fireworks restrictions ordinance.

While fireworks remain restricted in certain parts of the city, both Washington City Fire Chief Matt Evans and City Attorney Thad Seegmiller said the city lacked the authority to enact an overall ban on fireworks due to state law.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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