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City leaders say they were forced to grant request
CANNELTON - The owner of one Cannelton business has received complaints about an action the city's board of public works and safety took last month at the request of another.
Jesse Clem asked the board at a Feb. 18 meeting to allow him to designate parking spaces at the Covered Wagon line-dancing venue for customers or unloading only. In reporting that action, The News checked a telephone book for the Covered Wagon's address.
"We got a lot of calls because (The News listed) our address," Willie Tindle told the board at their regular meeting Monday. The owner of Tindle's Upholstery Center and Night Life Western Wear at 124 S. Sixth St., said she's been in business since 1994, and has only two parking spots her customers can use. The Covered Wagon's address is 134 S. Sixth St., she told The News after her discussing the issue with the board.
Clem had told its members his customers had trouble getting into his building, saying noncustomers "have to be afraid they'll be towed" to keep them from using his designated spaces.
"I didn't like the idea of the city sounding like they're intimidating people," Tindle told board members Adam Goffinet and Mayor Smokey Graves. The third member, Cindy Lawalin, was absent.
Graves said Police Chief Kenny Kellems had agreed not to tow the vehicles of noncustomers parking in the designated spots.
"Unless I get a direct order from your office," the chief told the mayor, "I won't remove vehicles."
"It's simple enough to find the owners and tell them the area is restricted parking," Graves said, adding that's easier than calling for a tow truck.
The city officials looked at other businesses that have such restrictions, and Graves said they couldn't refuse Clem's request, which restricts parking only during his open hours, 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. "If we disallowed it, we'd have to pull every sign in town," he said.
"I'm not a big fan of the policy," Goffinet said, because there's no way to know when such a request should be refused. "I think it's an unfortunate policy. It opens the door to anyone who asks for it."
Clem has "already scared off some people off," Tindle said. "Will (Clem's) signs say cars will be towed?" she asked.
"I don't know what the ordinance says," Graves responded.
The Tindles and Clems opened the dance hall as partners, but have parted ways. Now both compete in offering meals and karaoke-singing opportunities to their clientele.
Meeting after the public-works board, the common council approved a request from Clem to remove the Tindles' names from a tax abatement they secured to launch the business.
Clem said Wednesday he didn't scare anyone off.
"We never raised our voice, we never got upset. My wife talked to a lady one day, and asked her to please park next door," he said. Wife Cheryl helps him run the business and line-dancing classes it offers. The woman asked if her car would be towed, he said, and his wife told her, "no."
"The next thing we knew, we had a riot on our front porch," Jesse Clem said. "It's perfectly legal for Cheryl to ask somebody to move their car. People don't have to listen."
No one inside his business at the time was aware of what was occurring outside, he said, "but (Tindle's) building emptied out; it looked like a mob. I could have had them locked up, and should have."
If the police chief won't have offending vehicles towed, Clem said he will, "but I won't tow anybody without giving them a warning."
Goffinet suggested city attorney Chris Goffinet be consulted.