Planned Farmville speed zone hits legal snag

Published 5:27 am Tuesday, December 27, 2022

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FARMVILLE – The proposed Farmville speed zone was supposed to take effect next month on Griffin Boulevard. Instead, it’s run into a dead-end, thanks to some legalities nobody saw coming. 

“We ran into a huge barrier,” said Farmville Police Chief Andy Ellington. “We found out a speed zone is designated only for K-12th grade. It does not include universities or (places of) higher education. (As a result), we were denied the approval. Now, I’m working to get (the General Assembly) to amend the law to include universities.” 

The issue of the speed zone came about after numerous incidents at the intersection prompted concern from residents. 

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“We have had several incidents in this area,” Ellington said. “Last year, a student was hit. We are very lucky it wasn’t a fatality.”

He’s referring to a Longwood University student that was injured at the intersection last year. A student crossing the road to get to class was hit in late September of 2021. That’s when plans started coming together to create a speed zone. 

People wouldn’t face criminal charges for going over the limit in a Farmville speed zone. Instead, it would be a civil penalty. The town sets a certain speed limit. Then if you go over that limit by say 10 mph, the camera takes a picture and the person owning the vehicle is responsible for paying that penalty. The fine for a violation like that would be $100. 

At least that was the plan. Ellington said that nobody realized the speed zone could only be implemented in a K-12 school area. Now, unless the state law changes, that idea has to be set aside. Ellington said he’d be working with Dana Schrad to get that changed. Schrad is the executive director for the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.  

Farmville speed zone needed on Griffin Boulevard

To be clear, there is an issue in the area. Ellington said his department ran camera tests on Griffin Boulevard on March 30. Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., the camera caught 79 violations, with people going 10 mph over or more. The department ran the tests again one day later and found 103 drivers went above the speed limit. Out of the violations, there were 159 with violations of 10 mph or higher. 

“We’re kind of stuck in the mud right now,” Ellington said. “We are doing everything we can to get this amended.”