Heath City Council on July 20 agreed to add another layer of appeals for those who have received notices of traffic violations captured on camera.

Heath City Council on July 20 agreed to add another layer of appeals for those who have received notices of traffic violations captured on camera.

That next step in appealing, according to Licking County Municipal Court Clerk Marcia Phelps, could cost the motorist as much in court costs as the violation's fine itself: $100.

Council voted in December 2008 to install cameras along Hebron Road at Putnam Road, Heath Road, Irving-Wick Drive, Hopewell Drive, Coffman Boulevard, 30th Street and Andover Road. Warnings were mailed after cameras began working in June, but the 30-day warning period ended June 30.

"We decided not to change anything else," Heath Mayor Richard Waugh said, referring to the added layer of appeals. "No-tices of violation will be going out."

Since June 30, residents have been fighting the issue, attending meetings and trying to generate support for a petition to have the issue placed on the November ballot. They complain that business is down because people don't want to get caught and have to pay a fine.

Last week, the residents submitted a petition with 410 names to have residents vote on a charter amendment to ban the use of traffic cameras or photo enforcement. The city must submit the petition to the Licking County Board of Elections for placement on the November ballot.

The violations are issued through the company that installed the cameras -- Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. -- after being reviewed by officers from the Heath Police Department. Violations are civil and carry a $100 fine. The cameras track drivers' speeds and red-light violations.

Currently, residents may appeal violations to an attorney hired by the city to hear appeals.

Police Chief Tony Shepherd had asked council to consider letting residents appeal the attorney's decision to the Licking County Municipal Court.

On Monday, the city approved Shepherd's request as an amendment to the original legislation.

"It adds another level of review," Waugh said.

Waugh said alleged violators would be asked to post a bond in the amount of the fine prior to going to the hearing officer. If the hearing officer finds in the defendant's favor, the bond is returned. If the hearing officer does not find in the defendant's favor, the city will keep the money.

Phelps said the information has been forwarded to the judges who would have to decide if they want to hear the appeals. If they do, Phelps said, court employees will process the requests.

She said appeals would cost as much as the violation fines -- $100.

Licking County Municipal Court already hears appeals from local mayor's courts, including criminal traffic violations. The Heath appeals are civil, she said.

At this point, she said, the court is not sure of how the Heath appeals would affect the number of cases.

"We're not sure how many of the individuals will follow an appeals process that far," she said. "It remains to be seen how the numbers will impact our office."

The violation fine is split between Heath and Redflex. Redflex takes $31 of each of the first 150 violations and $21 thereafter.

Waugh said he believes the city has done the right thing by installing cameras and that those who have viewed the video from the violations agree that Heath is not sending violation notices to people who are not speeding and not running red lights.

"The statistics will show in two or three months that traffic violations have significantly decreased," he said.

City statistics show that 286 accidents occurred on Hebron Road in 2007 and 269 in 2008. According to state figures, a small percentage of those were the result of speeding or red-light violations.

Ronnie Kidd, one of the residents fighting against the cameras, said if it's not about stopping accidents, it must be about raising money. He said the city sent 8,483 violation letters for the first three weeks of July, netting a combined $848,300 for the city and Redflex.

Shepherd said those statistics show many people going the speed limit, even if they traveling over the speed limit, because "for the average crash, the speed we list is what the driver tells us they were traveling."

He said unless an accident causes injury or is more severe in nature, the investigating officer does not request an investigator to come be at the scene to determine a person's speed.

"Most people say they were traveling the speed limit," he said.

Waugh said violations caught on Redflex cameras show people going through red lights after two or three seconds and show people traveling more than 60 miles per hour on 30th Street.

"The video and photographic evidence is pretty clear," Waugh said. "Most people that can see the videos say, 'How can you dispute that?'"

Shepherd confirmed that violations are being sent. He said 182 red-light violation letters were sent from July 1 to 14. There were 9,896 speeding violations recorded from July 1 to 23. Thus far, 7,232 violations have been sent out. The police department still is reviewing the others.

A majority of the speeding violations have been recorded at Hebron Road and Coffman Boulevard.

Shepherd said the camera was placed at that site after Redflex tested speeds there and recorded four people going more than 76 miles per hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

"Even an emergency vehicle shouldn't be traveling that fast," Shepherd said.

The speed limit changes south of Coffman, so drivers heading north into Heath should pay attention.

Still, Shepherd said, most of the speeding violations in that area have been issued to those traveling south, leaving Heath. He said after people pass Irving-Wick Drive, the curb cuts are reduced and the area becomes more open, likely enticing many to accelerate more quickly there.