Controversial Proposal to Regulate Roadside Memorials in Palmetto

Losing a family member or friend to a car or motorcycle accident is devastating and changes everything.  Everything that is, except the love of family and friends.  For those left behind, roadside memorials can be a great comfort, marking the location where a loved one died and preserving their memory with messages and mementos.

roadside memorial-thumb-300x225-61086After the tragic death of 18-year-old Kyle O’Halloran on Christmas Day 2014 on 24th Avenue West in Palmetto a large roadside memorial was created with an umbrella and an empty chair at its side so visitors could sit and reflect.  Police say O’Halloran was killed after a drug deal gone bad when someone tried to drive away with O’Halloran hanging onto their car. O’Halloran’s memorial has been a place of healing, according to his mother, Leann.  “It’s the place he took his last breath.”

But to others, the memorial created safety and maintenance concerns, leading to a proposal put to the City of Palmetto to regulate roadside memorials and limit than to basic round white signs, much like the ones the Florida Department of Transportation allows to be placed on state road right-of-ways.

City officials acknowledged the safety issue, but after holding a workshop on the sensitive proposal they decided to remove the item from their meeting agenda and discard the policy – leaving things as they are and in the hands of Code Enforcement and Public Works.

Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said although the idea was aimed at helping people by implementing a policy to allow a consistent form of memorial roadside markers, it was misunderstood and in the end could not be worked out.  “It became harder and harder to work it out to where it could and couldn’t go,” she said. “In residential areas, it could be in somebody’s yard… we couldn’t find consistency so that it was equitable throughout the city.”

While some people might say the proposal to regulate roadside memorials was a waste of the City’s time and money, the attorneys at Heintz & Becker believe the community discussion brought much needed attention to the grief and suffering of families and friends who have lost loved ones due to traffic accidents.  If you suffered the loss of a family member as the result of a car or motorcycle accident caused by a careless, distracted or impaired driver, please contact us for a free consultation.

Source(s): Bradenton.com, “Controversial roadside memorial policy removed from Palmetto meeting agendas”, posted August 4, 2015; Bradenton.com, “Palmetto officials seek to legislate roadside memorials honoring lost loved ones”, posted July 22, 2015