Aldermen pass “no wake” ordinance

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Columbia Board of Aldermen on Nov. 7 passed a “no wake” ordinance that prohibits driving on flooded streets in a manner that causes property damage.

The ordinance, which becomes effective December 7, reads:

“Section One: It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle or watercraft on any portion of a flooded highway, street, alley or parking lot, regardless of whether such highway, street, alley, or parking lot is publicly or privately owned, in such a manner as to increase the level of floodwaters to a level that causes or could reasonably be expected to cause damage to any real or personal property.

“Section Two: The Town will cause signs to be erected warning operators of motor vehicles and watercraft of this prohibition and the penalties for violations.

“Section Three: Section One shall not apply to any law enforcement officer, firefighter or emergency medical services personnel engaged in the performance of his/her duties when any delay might result in a loss of life.

“Section Four: A violation of this section shall constitute an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $50.00.”

In answer to a question from Alderman Lloyd Armstrong, Tyrrell Sheriff Darryl Liverman said a complainant must be able to identify the driver of an offending vehicle; license tag number and vehicle description alone will be insufficient when testifying in court.

In introducing the legislation, town attorney Dwight Wheless said he based the measure on a similar one in force in Hampton, Virginia. As on several past occasions, his primary concern was to word the ordinance so it will be enforceable in court.

James Cahoon’s motion to adopt was affirmed by Armstrong, Midge Ogletree and Ray Marner. Sandra Owens was absent, and Mayor Michael Griffin votes only when the aldermen are equally divided.

Town manager said the town has purchased heavier barricades anchored with sandbags that he hopes will deter zealous motorists from entering closed streets during flood events.