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Tow Zone - oh, really?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Tow Zone - oh, really?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 30, 2009

Crystal Lake Towing Zone Sign Crystal Lake Towing Zone Sign

Recently many No Parking signs were erected on and around the campus of McHenry County College. I'm sympathetic to the parking problems at the College, both on behalf of students, faculty, staff and visitors. These problems have resulted from sharp enrollment increases.

But are the parking restrictions legal? What if they aren't? What if the signs have no legal effect? Worse - if the signs aren't "legal", what if someone's car gets towed or ticketed?

An earlier call today to IDOT to ask whether the signs on U.S. 14 (top photo) are "legal" has not yet been returned. My question to IDOT was, "Are the parking signs on both sides of U.S. 14 legal?"

The signs are not regulation signs that meet the standards of the "Bible" followed by IDOT. The signs are temporary signs, similar to electioneering signs, small and erected in wire frames. IDOT likes signs on metal posts.

Now, what about the signs along perimeter roads, such as College Entrance 1 Road, and the driveways of the parking lots? Are these "No Parking - Tow Zone" signs legal? First, it was important to learn whether the perimeter roads were public roads or private roads.

The Crystal Lake Streets Department says the perimeter roads around the MCC campus are not public streets. So why are there Crystal Lake Police enforcement signs along them?

I called the Administration office of Crystal Lake to ask if there is a City ordinance about parking at MCC. They were going to direct my inquiry to the police department for response. So far, no call back from the Crystal Lake P.D. Keep in mind - these signs warn that the "No Parking - Tow Zone" ban is by order of the Crystal Lake Police.

Now, about the parking lots at MCC. Clearly, MCC can create its parking rules for the parking lots. These are private property. But can they use warning signs announcing the authority of the Crystal Lake Police?

I'm awaiting a return call from MCC with information as to who installed the No Parking signs and who paid for them.

Watch for more information about the legality of the No Parking signs.

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