Council sends revised moped rules to public hearing

Thu, 02/11/2021 - 5:45pm

After initial discussions began on Wednesday, Feb. 3 to address changes to the town’s moped ordinance, the Town Council, on Tuesday, Feb. 9, approved proposed amendments from Town Solicitor Kathy Merolla and set a public hearing date on them for Thursday, March 4.

Councilor Keith Stover had first brought proposed changes to the town’s “Motorized Cycle Rental” ordinance at the Feb. 3 council meeting. On Feb. 9, Town Manager Maryanne Crawford and Merolla presented the revised amendments after their legal review.

“First of all,” Stover said, “we have a number of licensees who have had years, decades, to self-regulate on safety issues and they haven’t. We have three kinds of undeniable things: a public health and safety crisis; we have a community that is demanding that we step up to the plate; and I would argue that we have a substantial liability problem. It is well within our power to mitigate something here.”

During the Feb. 9 Town Council meeting, Crawford read out loud the revised amendments based on the solicitor’s legal review. They were reviewed one by one and approved in separate motions by the council. The following amendments were approved by the council and can be seen below in a brief summary:

Section 8-78 Same–Application

The moped license application now requires a “site plan” and other details to specify a “vehicle proficiency area” - or where renters would “practice using the vehicles” before going on the road. A second new paragraph requires the applicant provide a plan for the off-season storage of vehicles.

Section 8-88 Hours of Operation

Currently, businesses are allowed to rent mopeds between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and renters may use them from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The new language would restrict both rental and operation to between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Section 8-90 Safety

New language would require the moped rental company to ensure that no passengers are seated in front of the moped driver; that training includes a safety video and quiz after the video; and a test drive on private property. The amendment also explicitly prohibits companies from renting to anyone “who is visibly intoxicated.” A new sentence states that any violation of town ordinances or state law may result in “suspension, revocation, or nonrenewal” of the moped business’ license.

After approving each amendment in turn, the Council unanimously approved First Warden Andre Boudreau’s motion to make all the changes effective immediately.

The council will hold a public hearing by Zoom on March 4, at noon on the ordinance changes.

Update from Dr. Warcup

Block Island Medical Center Director Dr. Tom Warcup provided some news on the status of Covid-19 vaccinations on the island.

“We have been able to vaccinate 110 people on the island. Seventy-five people have received two vaccines, and 35 individuals have received their first vaccine. This gives us approximately about nine to 11 percent of the island population that we have vaccinated so far,” said Warcup. “We are anticipating the delivery of another 50 vaccines next week. We will be communicating that through our various outlets – Block Island Bulletin Board, website and social media. We will be reaching out to the 80-plus year-old patients next in the queue. We have been able to successfully vaccinate all of our patients that are 90 years-old and over with both vaccine [doses],” said Warcup.

Dr. Warcup also announced that Block Island Health Services held its first Covid-19 vaccine drive-through clinic on Saturday, Jan. 30.

“If the weather cooperates, we can vaccinate on a large scale,” he said. “We would also like to practice at the [Block Island School] gym. We are practicing, and refining the vaccination sites on the island,” said Warcup.

Warcup added there had been no new cases of Covid-19 on the island recently.

“No new cases on the island over the past four weeks,” said Warcup, but he noted the state and nation were “holding their breath” to see what results may arise from recent Super Bowl social events.

Boudreau asked Warcup when it would be possible to see all year-round residents be vaccinated.

“I think it will be this spring. Everybody is pushing as hard as they can. I know there is Covid-19 fatigue but we are near the finish line. I have complete confidence that everyone that would like to have a vaccine, will likely get it by the end of April,” said Warcup.

“We want to thank the community members that have reached out to advocate for vaccinations. We are advocating, and going to continue to advocate on a weekly basis,” added Warcup.