A stalled proposal to introduce red-light cameras to Pickerington might be on the back burner, but that didn't stop the debate over the issue from heating recently.

A stalled proposal to introduce red-light cameras to Pickerington might be on the back burner, but that didn't stop the debate over the issue from heating recently.

For the second consecutive meeting, Pickerington City Council tabled legislation on Feb. 17 to allow the installation of photo red-light enforcement cameras at three intersections along state Route 256.

However, council members and other city officials concluded the night's meeting with a prolonged debate over the necessity of the devices, as well as how they should be operated, if approved.

The squabble began after the matter was tabled for at least another two weeks.

Councilman Brian Wisniewski, an opponent of red-light cameras, said should Scottsdale, Ariz.-based RedFlex Traffic Systems Inc. be permitted to donate and maintain the cameras where Route 256 intersects state Route 204/Tussing Road, Refugee Road and Diley/Grandview roads, traffic should be monitored in all four directions. Currently, RedFlex is proposing to monitor only northbound and southbound traffic at the intersections.

"First of all, (the cameras are) a big farce," Wisniewski said. "Secondly, if we're going to do it, we need to do it correctly.

"... I think they need to monitor in all directions. Accidents don't occur from people running red lights just in one direction."

The argument was supported by council members Christie Hammond and Mike Sabatino, but a motion to require monitoring all directions of traffic at the intersections failed by a 3-4 vote.

Council President Pro Tempore Jeff Fix argued that north-south traffic on Route 256 is significantly higher than east-west traffic traveling through the intersections.

He added that RedFlex, which by contract would receive $50 from each $120 fine paid for a photo-enforced violation, performed a study to determine which directions of traffic should be monitored.

"(RedFlex) is not in the business of losing money, so they're not going to put (cameras) at intersections where there's not a problem," Fix said.

City Manager Tim Hansley, who can't vote on the proposed legislation, said requiring RedFlex to donate cameras monitoring four directions of traffic could be a "deal-breaker" because it could create a less profitable situation for the company.

Council then supported a motion by Councilman Keith Smith to consider monitoring illegal right turns at red lights at the three intersections by a 4-3 vote. Wisniewski, Hammond and Sabatino opposed the move.

If approved, Pickerington would be the first central Ohio suburb to allow red-light cameras. They already are used by 11 cities throughout the state, including at 18 intersections in Columbus.

The red-light debate could resume at council's March 3 meeting. However, Mayor Mitch O'Brien has asked that a decision be delayed until at least this summer, after a $250,000 project to install an Adaptive Control Software System -- which will use real-time video of traffic to control signal timing along Route 256 -- is complete.

nellis@thisweeknews.com