by MADIHA MIRZA
DULUTH, Minn. - An ordinance legalizing mini-trucks in Duluth failed by a vote of 5 to 4 in Monday evening's Duluth City Council meeting.
A mini-truck, also known as a Kei truck, is a lightweight, 4WD with a top speed of about 55 mph. A mini-truck is crash tested in Japan and is used for transportation in Japan and Canada. It is also legal in 14 states in the U.S.
Councilor Sharla Gardner supported the ordinance by saying that the mini-trucks consume much less gas than the multi-ton SUVs and trucks that cause pollution and damage the city streets.
Ben Fisher-Merritt, of Wrenshall, Minn., spoke in favor of the ordinance. "The mini-trucks are eco-friendly and they should be allowed in Duluth," Fisher-Merritt said. "A permit is required to drive a mini-truck and it will be used only for business."
Councilor Tony Cuneo also supported the ordinance and said that Duluth Police Department did not approve the mini-trucks by saying that they are not safe for drivers and motorcyclists. "I see no reason how they are unsafe for the rest of the citizens," Cuneo said.
But Councilor Jay Fosle voted against the ordinance and said that the mini-trucks are defined by its company's website as "suitable for hunting and farming only."
Councilor Kerry Gauthier also opposed the ordinance by saying that the mini-trucks have not been crash tested in the U.S. and therefore they might not be safe.
If the ordinance would have been approved, Duluth would have been the fifth Minnesota city to allow mini-trucks on roads.
Councilors Fosle, Todd Fedora, Patrick Boyle, Gauthier and Jim Stauber voted against the ordinance while Councilors Gardner, Cuneo and Dan Hartman voted in favor of the ordinance.