A reporter uncovered an illegal speed trap in Birchwood Village, Minnesota but failed to properly call attention to it.
The mayor says the city is allowed to reduce the speed limit by posting street name signs. That fails the smell test.
State law permits cities to post of 35 mph where driveways are 300 feet apart, 30 mph where driveways are 100 feet apart, and 25 mph on “a city street or town road that is less than one-half mile in total length.”
The main road through Birchwood Village is 0.9 miles long. It is a continuous road routinely referred to in city council minutes under the name “Cedar/Hall”, because it is posted “Cedar Street” for 0.4 miles and “Hall Avenue” for 0.5 miles.
The city justifies posting 25 on the basis of the name change in the middle. By that reasoning any road in Minnesota could be posted 25 zone as long as it changed name every half mile. “Main Street Part A”, “Main Street Part B”, etc.
The city called in the sheriff to run speed traps. The sheriff might have a “just following orders” defense, because he doesn’t know the full story.
City officials do know the full story and they have no excuse.
The mayor didn’t even try to justify posting 20 mph on other streets. Cities in Minnesota can’t reduce limits below 25 mph outside of school zones. Only the state can do that.
The village should be disincorporated, but not until residents are assessed a surcharge to compensate victims of the speed trap.
The opinions expressed in belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.