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Eunice speeds toward lowering speed limit

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Eunice speeds toward lowering speed limit

EUNICE — The Eunice City Council took another step Tuesday toward lowering speed limits in the city’s residential areas from 35 mph to 25 mph, approving the first reading of a draft ordinance.

“Right now the speed limit … is 35 miles an hour on all city streets unless it’s posted otherwise,” said City Manager Marty Moore. “We do have an area of state highway that gets down to 25. Otherwise, all city streets are 35 right now.”

The draft ordinance, which would lower the speed limit in residential areas to 25 mph, resulted from numerous complaints of drivers “speeding” through residential streets, Moore said, including recent concerns that new asphalt on Texas Avenue would encourage more speeding.

As Eunice Police Chief Jimmie Jones explained in the previous meeting, “As it is right now, you’ve got people going zero to 35 in a block and slamming on their brakes at the next stop sign. To me that’s much more d a n g e ro u s than somebody rolling through a stop sign at five mph.”

Encouraging a change in the law, he pointed out zero to 35 to zero appears to be speeding, but violated no laws his department could enforce. He emphasized the council should make a decision and the police department would enforce whatever is decided.

Moore told the council, “This is a first reading only, so it’s open for discussion. We wanted to give you a target to throw darts at.”

A second reading at the next meeting is required before the council passes the ordinance that sets the residential speed limit at 25 mph, and reaffirms school zone speed limit at 15 mph.

Mayor Billy Hobbs asked the council whether 25 mph is appropriate or they preferred to make it 30 mph. None recommended setting the limit at 30 mph.

“I’ve been driving 20-25 anyway,” said councilman Terry Bettis.

Noting the school zone speed on Avenue O (aka NM-176) is 20 mph, Jones said, “We have no control over what the speed limits are on the state highways. When (Moore) is talking school zones, he’s talking about those residential areas up near the schools. The state highway (speed limits) are set by the State Highway Department. Whatever resolution or ordinance you pass here would have no impact on those roads.”

In the absence of Councilor Marty Rodriguez, the council voted 7-0 to accept the draft ordinance with no changes recommended. The second reading and final vote are expected in the council’s first meeting in June.

In other business, the council approved a letter of support for a southeastern New Mexico economic coalition plan, approved a contract with Lea County for goods and services, approved a resolution of cooperation with the Lea County Legislative Coalition, heard a report about the 2018 Eunice Youth Summer Program, filled a vacancy on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and tabled a zoning request in anticipation of a zoning ordinance revision.

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